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Oral health in cancer survivors

Hani Haytham Mawardi, BDS, DMSc, DABOM, FDS RCSEd
Maha Ali Al-Mohaya, BDS, MS, DMSc, ABOM
Nathaniel S Treister, DMD, DMSc
Section Editor
Patricia A Ganz, MD
Deputy Editor
Sadhna R Vora, MD


For most cancer survivors there are no specific oral health considerations or expected late complications. However, cancer survivors prescribed bone-modifying agents, survivors of head and neck cancer, childhood cancer survivors, and patients treated on protocols involving high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation (HCT-SCT) constitute high-risk groups for oral health complications. These patients may require long-term dental follow-up well after completion of cancer therapy [1]. An overview of oral complications is shown in the table (table 1).

Since most patients are usually followed and managed by their local community dentists, communication between medical and dental providers is critical prior, during, and after cancer therapy, in order to minimize or prevent oral health complications [2,3].

This topic will review oral health considerations in cancer survivors at high risk for complications. Because head and neck cancer survivors, patients treated with hematopoietic cell transplantation who develop chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), and patients taking bone modifying agents are at a significant risk for oral health complications, a detailed discussion of these patients is covered separately.

(See "Management of late complications of head and neck cancer and its treatment".)

(See "The approach to hematopoietic cell transplantation survivorship", section on 'Oral health'.)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jan 19, 2016.
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