Maintaining Oral Health During Cancer Treatment

JoAnn Gurenlian RDH, PhD

The National Cancer Institute estimates that approximately 1.6 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year and one-third of those individuals will die from their disease. Cancer accounts for nearly 1of every 4 deaths and is the second most common cause of death in the U.S. Fortunately, 13 million Americans with a history of cancer were alive in 2010, with some still undergoing treatment.

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Individuals who receive a diagnosis of cancer face many challenges as they proceed through the continuum of care. They require support of all health care providers from the time of diagnosis, through treatment, and after treatment is completed. This course will review the oral effects of cancer treatment and protocols for reducing morbidity and mortality due to oral complications of cancer therapy.

Educational Objectives

Upon completion of this course, the participant will be able to:

  • Recognize that a diagnosis of cancer is different for each individual.
  • Identify chemotherapeutic options for patients undergoing cancer treatment.
  • Describe the oral health manifestations associated with a weakened immune system from cancer therapy.
  • Identify oral health protocols that will reduce morbidity and mortality.