Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Oral Complications of Chemotherapy and Head/Neck Radiation (PDQ®): Supportive care - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Etiopathogenesis

Table 2. Oral Complications of Cancer Chemotherapy continued...

Head and neck radiation can also induce damage that results in permanent dysfunction of vasculature, connective tissue, salivary glands, muscle, and bone. Loss of bone vitality occurs:

  • Secondary to injury to osteocytes, osteoblasts, and osteoclasts.
  • From a relative hypoxia due to reduction in vascular supply.

These changes can lead to soft tissue necrosis and osteonecrosis that result in bone exposure, secondary infection, and severe pain.[11]

Oral Complications of Radiation Therapy

  • Acute complications:
    • Oral mucositis.
    • Infection:
      • Fungal.
      • Bacterial.
    • Salivary gland dysfunction:
      • Sialadenitis.
      • Xerostomia.
    • Taste dysfunction.
  • Chronic complications:
    • Mucosal fibrosis and atrophy.
    • Xerostomia.
    • Dental caries.
    • Soft tissue necrosis.
    • Osteonecrosis.
    • Taste dysfunction:
      • Dysgeusia.
      • Ageusia.
    • Muscular/cutaneous fibrosis.
    • Infections:
      • Fungal.
      • Bacterial.

Unlike chemotherapy, however, radiation damage is anatomically site-specific; toxicity is localized to irradiated tissue volumes. Degree of damage depends on treatment regimen-related factors, including type of radiation utilized, total dose administered, and field size/fractionation. Radiation-induced damage also differs from chemotherapy-induced changes in that irradiated tissue tends to manifest permanent damage that places the patient at continual risk for oral sequelae. The oral tissues are thus more easily damaged by subsequent toxic drug or radiation exposure, and normal physiologic repair mechanisms are compromised as a result of permanent cellular damage.

References:

  1. Larson PJ, Miaskowski C, MacPhail L, et al.: The PRO-SELF Mouth Aware program: an effective approach for reducing chemotherapy-induced mucositis. Cancer Nurs 21 (4): 263-8, 1998.
  2. Sonis ST: Mucositis as a biological process: a new hypothesis for the development of chemotherapy-induced stomatotoxicity. Oral Oncol 34 (1): 39-43, 1998.
  3. Lalla RV, Brennan MT, Schubert MM: Oral complications of cancer therapy. In: Yagiela JA, Dowd FJ, Johnson BS, et al., eds.: Pharmacology and Therapeutics for Dentistry. 6th ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier, 2011, pp 782-98.
  4. Schubert MM, Peterson DE: Oral complications of hematopoietic cell transplantation. In: Appelbaum FR, Forman SJ, Negrin RS, et al., eds.: Thomas' Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation: Stem Cell Transplantation. 4th ed. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, pp 1589-1607.
  5. Rocke LK, Loprinzi CL, Lee JK, et al.: A randomized clinical trial of two different durations of oral cryotherapy for prevention of 5-fluorouracil-related stomatitis. Cancer 72 (7): 2234-8, 1993.
  6. Pilotte AP, Hohos MB, Polson KM, et al.: Managing stomatitis in patients treated with Mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors. Clin J Oncol Nurs 15 (5): E83-9, 2011.
  7. de Oliveira MA, Martins E Martins F, Wang Q, et al.: Clinical presentation and management of mTOR inhibitor-associated stomatitis. Oral Oncol 47 (10): 998-1003, 2011.
  8. Sonis ST, Peterson DE, McGuire DB, eds.: Mucosal injury in cancer patients: new strategies for research and treatment. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr (29): 1-54, 2001.
  9. Akintoye SO, Brennan MT, Graber CJ, et al.: A retrospective investigation of advanced periodontal disease as a risk factor for septicemia in hematopoietic stem cell and bone marrow transplant recipients. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 94 (5): 581-8, 2002.
  10. Raber-Durlacher JE, Epstein JB, Raber J, et al.: Periodontal infection in cancer patients treated with high-dose chemotherapy. Support Care Cancer 10 (6): 466-73, 2002.
  11. Myers RA, Marx RE: Use of hyperbaric oxygen in postradiation head and neck surgery. NCI Monogr (9): 151-7, 1990.
  12. Paju S, Scannapieco FA: Oral biofilms, periodontitis, and pulmonary infections. Oral Dis 13 (6): 508-12, 2007.
1|2|3
1|2|3

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
A common one in both men and women.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
 
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Do you know the symptoms?
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article