Alterations found in the mouth of patients treated with head and neck radiotherapy. Medellin, Colombia

Gloria Jeanethe Álvarez Gómez, Rosa Virginia López Camacho, Javier Enrique Botero Torres, Sandra Milena Botero Gómez, Diana Patricia Cardona Álzate, Pedro Alejandro Carmona Ross, Jorge Eliecer Hernández Arévalo


The aim of the present study was to determine which oral alterations can be found in patients with head and neck cancer treated with radiotherapy as well as to explore dentist’s involvement in treatment of these patients. An exploratory study was conducted in 52 patients who had previously received over 1,000 cGy radiation. A survey was undertaken as well as oral examination of each participant, in order to assess stimulated salivary fl ow and fl avor tests. Results revealed high prevalence of oral alterations in patients with accumulated radiation of 3,001-5,000 cGy. Dry mouth (xerostomia) was the most frequently reported alteration (78.8%). Estimated total salivary secretion rate confirmed a state of hyposalivation in 82.7% of all patients. A statistically signifi cant association was found between cancer location (p < 0.01) and type of tumor with presence of trismus (p < 0.05). Hyposialia was more frequently present in patients with stage IV tumors (50%) in those subjected to combined treatments (p < 0.05). Periodontal assessment was possible in 50% of all patients, Of this proportion, 92% exhibited periodontitis with mainly moderate to severe insertion loss; 84.6% of all participants reported not to have been remitted to dentists either before or after treatment. Findings support high frequency of oral alterations in patients subjected to radiotherapy treatment and  dental care inappropriateness to prevent or treat these effects. An alert is raised with respect to the compulsiveness to follow treatmentprotocols for cancer patients, which should include dental evaluationbefore, during and after respective treatment.

Palabras clave

Head and neck cancer, mucositis, dysgeusia, trismus, xerostomia, radiotherapy oral sequels, oral candidiasis.

Texto completo:




Esp. Daniela Carmona Ruiz

Tel. (55) 5623 22 07

ISSN: 1870-199X