Background and purpose: Head-neck radiotherapy is accompanied by a life-long risk of developing severe oral problems. This study retrospectively assessed oral foci detected during pre-radiation dental screening and follow-up in order to assess risk factors for developing oral problems after radiotherapy.
Materials and methods: Charts of 185 consecutive head-neck cancer patients, subjected to a pre-radiation dental screening in the University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands, between January 2004 and December 2008 were reviewed. Eighty (partially) dentulous patients scheduled for curative head-neck radiotherapy met the inclusion criteria.
Results: Oral foci were found in 76% of patients, predominantly periodontal disease. Osteoradionecrosis had developed in 9 out of 80 patients (11%). Overall, patients presenting with periodontal pockets >= 6 mm at dental screening had an increased risk (19%) of developing osteoradionecrosis compared to the total group of patients. Patients in whom periodontal disease treatment was composed of initial periodontal in stead of removal of the affected teeth, the risk of developing osteoradionecrosis was even higher, viz. 33%.
Conclusions: A worse periodontal condition at dental screening and initial periodontal therapy to safeguard these patients to develop severe oral sequelae after radiotherapy were shown to be major risk factors of developing osteoradionecrosis. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved. Radiotherapy and Oncology 101 (2011) 403-409