[Year:2011] [Month:May-August] [Volume:2] [Number:2] [Pages:5] [Pages No:109 - 113]
Cancer is a class of diseases in which a cell or a group of cells display uncontrolled growth, invasion, and sometimes metastasis. The term head and neck cancer refers to a group of biologically similar cancers originating from the upper aerodigestive tract, including the lip, oral cavity, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, pharynx and larynx. About 90% of head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, originating from the mucosal lining (epithelium) of these regions. Radiation therapy is the most common form of treatment along with surgery and chemotherapy. There are different forms of radiation therapy, including 3D conformal radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy and brachytherapy, which are commonly used in the treatment of cancers of the head and neck. There are both acute and long-term sequelae of radiation therapy (RT) for head and neck cancer (HNC) that occur because of effects on normal tissues. Radiotherapy-induced oral complications are complex, dynamic pathobiological processes that lower the quality of life and predispose patients to serious clinical disorders. Radiotherapy-induced damage in the oral mucosa is the result of the deleterious effects of radiation, not only on the oral mucosa itself but also on the adjacent salivary glands, bone, dentition, and masticatory musculature and apparatus.
Dental surgeons should organize and implement preventive and therapeutic strategies in the management of various complications due to radiotherapy. The clinical features, diagnosis and management of various complications are discussed here. This article mainly presents a brief overview of the whole program of oral evaluation and proper care before, during and after the radiotherapy, managing all the common problems involved.