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Ochsner J. 2018 Winter;18(4):351-357. doi: 10.31486/toj.18.0061.

Dental Care for Patients With Childhood Cancers.

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry, New Orleans, LA.



Childhood cancer is the second most common cause of death in children in the United States. Treatments for childhood cancers usually incorporate chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgery. This review of contemporary literature highlights the necessity for interprofessional care to achieve the best dental outcomes for this patient population during cancer treatment, as well as for children who are long-term cancer survivors.


A literature search at PubMed identified research and review articles about oral and dental complications in children diagnosed with cancer. Also included were evidence and current best practices from guidelines published by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry on dental management of pediatric patients receiving chemotherapy, hematopoietic cell transplantation, and/or radiation therapy. Finally, clinical recommendations from the European Society for Medical Oncology Guidelines Working Group on management of oral and gastrointestinal mucositis were included. The literature search was limited to articles published in the English language.


Children with a new diagnosis of cancer should have dental care provided by a pediatric dentist to mitigate the oral complications from cancer treatment as well as to avoid dental infections during immunosuppressed states. An individualized oral care program can be developed for each patient to manage and treat acute and long-term oral complications related to cancer treatment.


Childhood cancer survivors present with unique challenges for dental management because of dental anomalies caused by cancer therapy. Interprofessional collaborative care between the pediatric dentist and the oncologist during and after cancer therapy will enable best outcomes for the pediatric patient. In addition, dental professionals must be prepared to meet the unique needs of long-term cancer survivors because of the increasing survival rates of childhood cancers.


Childhood cancer survivors; dental health services; pathology–oral; pediatric dentistry; periodontal diseases

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