Oral health condition in southern Chinese after radiotherapy for nasopharyngeal carcinoma: extent and nature of the problem


  • 1

    The manuscript was presented, in part, at the International Association for Dental Research annual conference in Chiba, Japan in June 2001.

Dr Edmond H.N. Pow, Oral Rehabilitation, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Hong Kong, 34 Hospital Road, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2859 0309, Fax: +852 2858 6114, E-mail: ehnpow@hkusua.hku.hk


Objective: To measure the oral health status of southern Chinese nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) survivors 1–4 years after radiotherapy.

Subjects and Methods: A total of 109 subjects participated in this cross-sectional study. Thirty-eight subjects were NPC survivors, 40 subjects were patients newly diagnosed with NPC and 31 were healthy subjects. Verified clinical examination techniques were used to assess limitation of jaw opening, the presence of mucositis, candidiasis, dental caries, periodontal disease [community periodontal index (CPI)] including attachment loss (ALoss) and prosthetic status/need. Differences among three groups were tested by chi-squared and Kruskal–Wallis tests. Relationships between selected clinical variables and radiation parameters were analysed using Spearman's rank correlation coefficients.

Results: The NPC survivors attended for dental treatment more frequently than the other groups (P < 0.01). NPC survivors had significant xerostomia (92%, P < 0.01), trismus (29%, P < 0.01), a higher prevalence of clinical candidiasis (24%, P < 0.01), a greater DMFT (16.4 ± 7.0, P < 0.01), more decay/filled roots (2.1 ± 2.9, P = 0.01) compared with new NPC patients and controls. No difference was found in CPI, ALoss, prosthetic status and need between groups. Dry mouth and tooth hypersensitivity were the most common oral problems perceived by the NPC survivors.

Conclusion: Despite having regular dental follow-ups, oral health was compromised in NPC survivors 1–4 years postradiotherapy.