Evaluation of a community-based dental screening program prior to radiotherapy for head and neck cancer: a single-center experience
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Oral toxicities following radiation therapy (RT) for head and neck (HN) cancer can be profound and are associated with poor health outcomes. The Division of Oral Medicine and Dentistry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute therefore implemented a dental evaluation program designed for community-based (CB) dentists to evaluate and treat patients scheduled for HN RT. The aim of this retrospective single-center cohort study was to assess the compliance of CB dentists with this pre-RT dental evaluation program.
A retrospective analysis of dental evaluations completed by CB dentists from December 2013 to December 2015 was performed. Descriptive statistics were used to determine compliance.
A total of 186 dental evaluations were received. Compliance with completion of dental treatment was as follows: scaling and prophylaxis: 94.5% (172/182); dental restorations: 78.7% (48/61); endodontic therapy: 76.9% (10/13); and dental extractions: 76.9% (30/39). Compliance of CB dentists with all requested components of the pre-RT evaluation and treatment was 77.4% (144/186). The median distance traveled by patients to the CB dentist and to the hospital was 5.2 miles (range 0.03–66.0) and 46.5 miles (range 0.8–1457; p < 0.01), respectively.
In this study, the majority of patients completed their necessary dental treatment in a timely manner by their CB dentist in collaboration with an oral medicine specialist. Given the high compliance of CB dentists, this program could serve as a model for other cancer centers to optimize oral and dental health prior to RT.
KeywordsHead and neck cancer Head and neck radiation Dental screening Caries Osteoradionecrosis
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Dr. Margalit reports personal fees from Galera Therapeutics, outside the submitted work. The corresponding author is in full control of the primary data and gives permission to the journal to review if requested.
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