RESEARCH PAPER
Dental care for cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy of the head and neck region
 
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1
Department of Integrated Dentistry, Institute of Dentistry, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Kraków, Poland
2
Department of Mycology, Chair of Microbiology, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Kraków, Poland
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Jolanta Pytko-Polończyk   

ul. Montelupich 4, 31-155 Kraków, Poland
 
J Pre Clin Clin Res. 2012;6(2):111–117
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
Introduction:
Despite the considerable progress that has been made in radiotherapy in recent years, the side effects of ionising radiation treatment still constitute a major therapeutic problem on account of the multi-sidedness of the complications involved. The objective of the study was to determine the clinical condition of patients and the presence of fungi in the patients before, during and after radiotherapy, and on this basis prepare guidelines for local dental treatment as a recommended procedure for supporting cancer treatment. A total of 82 patients were treated for cancers of the head and neck organs with radiotherapy. The clinical condition of the oral cavity was assessed as was the appearance of fungi (a qualitative and quantitative assessment) in patients prior to the beginning of treatment, during treatment (weeks 2 and 4 of treatment), as well as after its conclusion. The sensitivity of selected strains of fungi to anti-fungal drugs was also assessed using the ATB Fungus method. During the course of the radiotherapy the condition of patients deteriorated significantly, especially in week 4 of the treatment, which was confirmed by mycological tests and the appearance of symptoms of oral mucositis. Assessments of fungal abundance (intensiveness) of fungi at particular stages of the study illustrates the dynamic of the fungal process.

Results:
1) the use of radiotherapy has side effects which have a negative impact on the oral capacity of patients, i.e. inflammation of the mucous membrane (oral mucositis) and the appearance of erosion and ulceration; 2) simultaneously, the level of yeast-like fungi increases and candidiasis develops; 3) bacterial and fungal infections, as well as increasing acute post-radiation reaction in the mucous membranes of head and neck organs, requires prophylaxis and dental treatment.

 
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