Role of the dentist in prevention and treatment of oral complications secondary to cancer treatment

Citation metadata

Date: January-February 2014
From: Northwest Dentistry Journal(Vol. 93, Issue 1)
Publisher: Minnesota Dental Association
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,482 words
Lexile Measure: 1280L

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :

The treatment of cancer patients using chemotherapy or radiation precipitates many oral side effects that can lead to serious local and systemic complications. Oral health care management is necessary to prevent or limit oral side effects as well as to provide palliative treatment for oral complications.

Dentistry is a great profession for many reasons. One of the best parts is our orientation to prevention. Even when we are restoring a tooth, our treatment is focused on long-term survival of the tooth--i.e., prevention of loss. We spend most of our time helping healthy people who desire a higher level of health.

In contrast, the medical profession spends the majority of their time with ill and very ill patients. Often, in dealing with all the aspects of cancer treatment, the medical community is not focused on prevention of further complications.

The dental profession can play a key role in prevention and treatment of oral complications secondary to cancer treatment. We owe it to our patients, ourselves, and our esteemed colleagues to be knowledgeable palliative care partners for those folks being treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation. Unfortunately, with more than 1.4 million new cases of cancer diagnosed each year, we are called upon more and more often to assume this role.

Oral complications from treatment for any malignancy can compromise a patient's quality of life and commonly affect the schedule of treatments. The most common reason cancer treatments need to be postponed or even discontinued is unacceptable blood count levels. The second most common reason to disrupt planned therapy is oral complications. As dentists, we can play a key role in minimizing oral complications to treatment.

As with any other procedure in our office, we need to have a system in place so we can be both as consistent and as comprehensive as is appropriate for each individual patient. This will include a protocol for comprehensive, pretreatment examination, re-care treatment during and after cancer treatment, and clear, printed information and instructions for our patients.

Most patients are now advised by their oncology team to have a dental examination prior to the start of chemo or radiation therapy. Ideally this should be one month prior to the start of cancer treatment so if any...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A362274813