Review Article

Botulinum Toxin for Side-Effect Management and Prevention of Surgical Complications in Patients Treated for Head and Neck Cancers and Esophageal Cancer

Leah Shaw, MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC, AOCNP®, Angela F. Bazzell, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, AOCNP®, and Joyce E. Dains, DrPH, JD, RN, FNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas

Authors’ disclosures of conflicts of interest are found at the end of this article.

Leah Shaw, MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC, AOCNP®, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, Texas 77030. E-mail: lkshaw@mdanderson.org


J Adv Pract Oncol 2019;10(1):40–52 | https://doi.org/10.6004/jadpro.2019.10.1.3 | © 2019 Harborside™


  

ABSTRACT

Abstract

The management of head and neck cancers (HNC) and esophageal cancer (EC) is complex and often involves multiple modalities of treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. The side effects associated with these therapies and disease processes are extensive. A literature review was performed to evaluate the use of botulinum toxin as an intervention for side-effect management in patients with HNC and EC. Specific adverse events reviewed included salivary function (hypersalivation, fistula, hyposalivation) and gastrointestinal motility (esophageal stricture, delayed gastric emptying after esophagectomy). Published results demonstrate an improvement in hypersalivation and, when botulinum toxin was used as an adjunct to treatment, a reduction in symptoms associated with salivary fistula, or an inappropriate communication between the salivary gland and the skin that causes the leakage of saliva through the skin. Positive effects were also demonstrated in regard to esophageal stricture and equivalent effects in the management of gastric emptying to prevent complications after esophagectomy when compared to currently available interventions. However, the potential for increased symptoms associated with botulinum toxin injection related to its use in the management of gastric secretions was noted in one of the studies reviewed.




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