Oral Health and Experiences of Oral Care in Radiotherapy Patients with Head and Neck Cancer in Sudan
Background: In spite of careful planning and modern techniques, radiotherapy inevitably involves side-effects due to exposure of surrounding normal tissues. Patients treated for head and neck cancer who experience oral symptoms do not always consider these symptoms to be related to their disease or its treatment.
Objectives: To evaluate oral health status, experience of oral care and presence of complications in patients with head and neck malignancies receiving radiotherapy and assess the information received by these patients about oral effects of radiotherapy.
Materials and methods: Thirty nine adult male and female patients from Khartoum and Wadmedani Radiation and Isotope Centers were interviewed by questionnaires and their oral health status was examined clinically (three refused to participate and one discontinued). Comparison between variables by chi-square test and statistical significance difference was set at P-value < 0.05.
Results: Out of thirty five studied patients 63.6% maintained their oral hygiene as usual. Majority (88.6%) did not receive any information regarding oral complications of radiotherapy, and selfreported complaints expressed by (88.6%). Side effects experienced as 48.6% dry mouth, 45.7% pain, 46% alteration of taste and 25.7% reported inability to eat and drink. On examination 41.2% had ulceration and/or mucostitis, 26% xerostomia, 26.5% trismus, 17.6% candidasis and 11.8% angular chelitis. Association between xerostomia and patients with pharyngeal carcinoma is statistically significant (P = .003)
Conclusion: lack of information regarding oral complications of radiotherapy, dry mouth, pain and alteration of taste were common complaints.
Keywords: Head and neck cancers, oral hygiene, radiotherapy, Xerostomia, mucostitis.