Association between breast cancer chemotherapy, oral health and chronic dental infections: a pilot study

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Original Article


Breast cancer has developed to become the leading type of cancer in females. For this study, 80 women were examined after chemotherapy for breast cancer and compared to 80 healthy age-matched women. This cross-sectional study comprised a dental examination with number of teeth, caries frequency (DMFT) and the presence of periodontal diseases (PSI). With the help of X-rays (OPG), the number of root canal fillings and apical lesions (LEO/LPO) were recorded. Furthermore, the education level, body mass index (BMI), smoking habits and general health conditions were recorded. All women completed questionnaires on oral health-related quality of life (OHIP-G14) and general well-being (HADS-D). To assess the influence of cancer therapy on oral health parameters, appropriate generalized linear models were fitted with disease status as main explanatory variable, adjusting for age and education. For OHIP and HADS, we additionally adjusted for number of missing teeth. The examined 160 women showed a comparable mean age (60.4 years) and an average BMI of 24.6. Cancer patients showed a higher risk for missing teeth (p < 0.001) and more apical lesions (p < 0.0041), particularly those of endodontic origin without root canal fillings (p = 0.0046), than the control women. The general well-being of cancer patients was significantly reduced with a HADS score of 9.4 for women with breast cancer compared to 5.3 for the healthy control. This study suggests that women after breast cancer chemotherapy are inclined to have a poorer oral health status with more missing teeth and apical lesions. Therefore, tightly scheduled dental recall visits should be recommended.


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