It’s safe to say that nearly everyone has been affected by cancer at some point in their lives, whether it’s themselves or a close family or friend. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that in the year 2030, there will be 75 million people each year living with cancer – making cancer a serious global public health problem.
Chemoradiation is the combination of both chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer. Chemotherapy is the use of one or more anticancer drugs to damage cancer cells so they are unable to grow again. And radiation is used to the kill the DNA of the cancer cell. As cancer cells tend to grow and divide quickly, they become sensitive to the effects of cancer treatment. Fortunately, due to dosage intensification and the combination of chemotherapy drugs there has been an improvement in the survival rate of people with cancer, however the wider impacts of the treatment upon areas such as oral health often goes unnoticed.
Chemotherapy is used to treat roughly 70% of cancer patients and out of these patients 40% of adults and 90% of children under 12 years of age go on to develop oral complications. Common oral health complications found during and after cancer treatment include; oral mucositis, xerostomia and salivary gland dysfunction.
Oral mucositis, one of the most common and frequent lesions in patients undergoing cancer treatment, is when the tissues inside your mouth start to feel sore, similar to the feeling when you have been burnt by eating hot food. Some patients may even go on to develop ulcers making it difficult to eat, speak and taste food. Around 40% of patients receiving chemotherapy treatment will develop some degree of mucositis and depending on the treatment used it can become severe.
Another common oral condition experienced by cancer patients undergoing treatment is dry mouth or xerostomia. Patients undergoing radiation treatment to the head, face or neck will notice that this can dry their oral cavity and they may not notice an improvement in the production of their saliva until at least 6 months later. A dry mouth can impact more than the comfort of the mouth. Saliva plays an important role in both tasting, chewing and swallowing food as well as speaking. This can mean sufferers are reluctant to socialise and avoid certain foods, affecting nutrition which is important to recovery.
Oral complications can make a cancer sufferer’s experience even more distressing. That’s why it is important to take steps to care for the mouth to help prevent problems and ease symptoms. The Oralieve® Dry Mouth Relief product range has been developed with dry mouth sufferers to help replicate the natural saliva system whilst providing relief from dry mouth. For a free trial pack of Oralieve® Moisturising Mouth Gel click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.