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Cancer Treatment and Oral Health

Dentist with patientWhat Are Oral Complications of Cancer Therapy?

Most people are aware of common side effects of cancer treatment like nausea and hair loss. But many don't realize that more than one-third of people treated for cancer develop complications that affect the mouth. These problems may interfere with cancer treatment and diminish the patient's quality of life.

Head and neck radiation, chemotherapy, and blood and marrow transplantation can cause oral complications ranging from dry mouth to life-threatening infections.

What Can Be Done to Reduce Their Risk and Impact?

The publication series "Oral Health, Cancer Care, and You" informs health care providers and patients about steps they can take before, during and after cancer treatment to reduce the risk and impact of these often painful side effects. The 12-piece series includes fact sheets and laminated pocket guides for dental and cancer professionals, patient education publications in both English and Spanish, and a wallet card for patients with space for the names and contact information of their health care team.

Health Information

Oral Health, Cancer Care, and You Series

For health professionals

For patients

  • Chemotherapy and Your Mouth
    Discusses how chemotherapy affects the mouth and the importance of seeing a dentist before, during, and after treatment. Also included are self-care tips for patients to keep their mouth healthy during treatment.
  • Head and Neck Radiation Treatment and Your Mouth
    Discusses how radiation affects the mouth and the importance of seeing a dentist before, during, and after cancer treatment. Also included are self-care tips for patients to keep their mouth healthy during treatment.
  • Three Good Reasons to See a Dentist BEFORE Cancer Treatment
    Discusses reasons to see a dentist before cancer treatment, how to protect the mouth during treatment, and advice on when to call the cancer care team about mouth problems. Self-care tips are also provided.
  • Three Good Reasons to See a Dentist BEFORE Cancer Treatment (Pictograph)
    Illustrated booklet for adults with reading skills at the 2nd grade level or below. It includes reasons to see a dentist before cancer treatment, how to protect the mouth during treatment, and advice on when to call the cancer care team about mouth problems. Self-care tips are also provided.

For patients in Spanish

Additional Resources

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This page last updated: July 10, 2014