Oral complications of chemotherapy and head/neck radiation

Also known as: Chemotherapy, oral complications, Head/neck radiation therapy, oral complications
The oral cavity is at high risk of side effects from chemotherapy and radiation therapy for a number of reasons.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy stop the growth of rapidly dividing cells, such as cancer cells. Since normal cells in the lining of the mouth also divide rapidly, anticancer treatment can prevent cells in the mouth from reproducing, making it difficult for oral tissue to repair itself.

The mouth contains hundreds of different bacteria, some helpful and some harmful. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause changes in the lining of the mouth and production of saliva and can upset the healthy balance of bacteria. These changes may lead to mouth sores, infections and tooth decay.

Wear and tear occur from normal use of the mouth, teeth and jaws, making healing more difficult.
Providence Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Program offers world-class care for patients with benign and malignant tumors of the oral cavity (mouth), tongue, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), nose, paranasal sinuses, salivary glands and thyroid gland, as well as tumors at the skull base.