When battling cancer, patients may develop oral problems as a complication. This can result in a dwindling spiral of health issues, as these oral problems can have a negative effect on the cancer treatment itself.
Cancer Therapy and Possible Oral Complications
Patients who are undergoing radiation treatment to the head or neck can experience an increase in complications with their oral health. Chemotherapy can also lower a patient's immune system, exposing the patient to non-optimum oral difficulties, such as gum disease. Some complications include:
- Often patients undergoing cancer treatment may have nutritional issues due to lack of appetite. Poor nutrition has an ever-widening detrimental effect on the whole body, including the mouth.
- Infections caused by viral, bacterial and fungal agents, resulting from radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
- Reduced saliva flow resulting in dry mouth. This can lead to increased chances of dental decay, mouth infections or sores, and trouble with eating, swallowing or talking.
Aggressive cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, is toxic to both normal cells and cancer cells. This means that the healthy cells in the mouth can be compromised with cancer treatment. In addition, fungi and bacteria naturally exist in the body, including the mouth, but when the immune system is lowered, these elements can quickly become more hostile rather than helpful.