|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 171-175
Oral health condition and complications in pediatric cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy – A cross-sectional study
V Pranitha1, C Meghana2, KS Dwijendra3, SV Ravindra1, P B N Mounika4, P Uma Ramana3
1 Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, MNR Dental College and Hospital, Sangareddy, Telangana, India
2 Pediatric Dentist, Nagarjun Super Speciality Dental Hospital, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
3 Pediatric Dentist, Tharun Super Speciality Dental Hospital, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
4 Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Government Dental College and Hospital, Afzalgunj, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
|Date of Submission||17-Sep-2021|
|Date of Decision||27-May-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||08-Jun-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||22-Jun-2022|
Professor and Head, Department of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, MNR Dental College and Hospital, Sangareddy; B 509, Magnum Opus Apartment, Gachibowli, Hyderabad - 500 032, Telangana
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
| Abstract|| |
Background: Better knowledge of the prevalence of oral complications in children with malignancy improves oral health through an interdisciplinary approach between oncologists and pediatric dentists. Aim: This study aimed to assess the prevalence of oral health status in pediatric cancer patients to palliate and relieve the discomfort. Materials and Methods: This study was conducted in a cancer hospital in Hyderabad for 10 days. 158 patients aged [1-15 yrs] diagnosed with malignancy and receiving chemotherapy were selected and evaluated with a self-validated questionnaire followed by oral examination. Results: The data collected was processed and analyzed using the SPSS22 version [Corporation (IBM), Washington, DC., USA]. Mucositis 47% was the most common complication, followed by gingivitis 23.9%, xerostomia 12%, oral pain 11.6%, herpes 3%, and candidiasis 1.8%. Conclusion: Oral care of pediatric cancer patients is of critical importance in maintaining the patient's overall well-being, which can be achieved by a systematic approach at different stages of treatment.
Keywords: Chemotherapy, malignancy, oral complication, oral mucositis
|How to cite this article:|
Pranitha V, Meghana C, Dwijendra K S, Ravindra S V, Mounika P B, Ramana P U. Oral health condition and complications in pediatric cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy – A cross-sectional study. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol 2022;34:171-5
|How to cite this URL:|
Pranitha V, Meghana C, Dwijendra K S, Ravindra S V, Mounika P B, Ramana P U. Oral health condition and complications in pediatric cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy – A cross-sectional study. J Indian Acad Oral Med Radiol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 7];34:171-5. Available from: http://www.jiaomr.in/text.asp?2022/34/2/171/347921
| Introduction|| |
Cancer is the 9th most common cause of death among children between 5 and 14 years of age in India. Leukemia is the most commonly occurring cancer in children in India, with a mean incidence of 48.5% in boys and 21.2% in girls. Common oral complications include oral mucositis, salivary gland inflammation, intraoral infections, dry mouth, intraoral hemorrhage, and mucosal bleeding. Dental referral in recently diagnosed children is highly recommended to ensure sufficient time for appropriate oral health before the initiation of cancer therapy.
| Materials and Methods|| |
All procedures performed involving human participants were consistent with the institutional ethical committee [Reg.No: ECR/269/Indt/TG/2016, Dated 23/10/2019] and by the Declaration of Helsinki World Medical Association.
158 patients aged [1-15 yrs.] diagnosed with malignancy and receiving chemotherapy were selected.
Sample size estimation
A power analysis was performed to compare the sample size with the reference article's sample size using statistical software G*Power version 220.127.116.11. Z tests-proportions: The difference between two independent proportions and β/α ratio = 1 and level of significance of 5% showed the power of the present study is 84.8%.
Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Based on the willingness of the parent and child, informed consent was obtained before the examination of children who were receiving chemotherapy. Uncooperative children were excluded from the study.
Data collection was based on a self-validated questionnaire consisting of open and close-ended questions [Table 1] considering the opinion of one oncologist and five pediatric dentists to indicate their level of agreement with the question statements using a 5-point rating scale. Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient value is 0.82. Assessment of demographic data along with oral hygiene practices and the number of dental visits were recorded. Other aspects included were type of malignancy, chemotherapeutic drugs administered, and referral to a dental surgeon. The oral cavity of the children was examined using sterile equipment under torchlight and hard and soft tissues assessment was done without distressing children and their attendants.
During the study, oral mucositis was clinically classified using the World Health Organization (1979) criteria.
Data collection and statistical analysis
The data collected was processed and analyzed. Oral hygiene practices were assessed individually using the Chi-square test.
| Results|| |
Various types of malignancies and the number of patients suffering from each type are shown in [Table 2]. Gingival hyperplasia in a patient suffering from acute myeloblastic leukemia [Figure 1]. A comparison of brushing aids, frequency of brushing, toothpaste used, and the number of dental visits has been presented [Table 3]. They were individually assessed using the Chi-square test, and P < 0.05 were considered statistically significant.
|Table 3: Comparison of brushing aids, frequency of brushing, tooth paste, and dental visits individually by using the Chi-square test|
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Major chief complaints were dry mouth [48.5%] followed by difficulty in swallowing [33.3%], difficulty in speech [7.3%], and cracked lips [6.21%]. Other complaints were difficulty in opening the mouth [1.69%] and TMJ pain [2.82%] [Table 4]. Mucositis (47%) was the most common complication, followed by gingivitis [23.9%], xerostomia [12%], oral pain [11.6%], herpes [3%,] and candidiasis [1.8%.] Multiple oral complications coexisting were seen in these patients receiving chemotherapy [Table 5]. Gingivitis in a patient suffering from acute lymphoblastic Leukemia [Figure 2]. Out of 158 patients, 77 patients suffered from varying degrees of mucositis. As most children suffer from mucositis, scoring was done with 63.6% of children falling into grade-1 mucositis [Table 6].
| Discussion|| |
Antineoplastic therapy in radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy can lead to an array of oral side effects that appear more frequently in the younger population. The first period of treatment [28 days] was concerned with the chemotherapeutic induction of remission. Drugs used were vincristine, doxorubicin, prednisone, and L-asparaginase with 95% success rate, followed by therapy/prophylaxis phase with intrathecal injection of chemotherapeutic agent methotrexate. It is followed by a consolidation phase accomplished by administering drugs such as cyclophosphamide and cytarabine. During the maintenance phase, methotrexate and 6-mercaptopurine were used for approximately 2.5 to 3 yrs, depending on the protocol employed.
Parents were more concerned about concomitant illness than their child's oral care. Out of 158 patients, 110 patients brushed once a day, 46 patients brushed twice a day, and 2 didn't brush their teeth. Their parents cited the main reason was that their children were younger and unable to brush. This is in accordance with the study done by Aarushi et al., Out of 47 patients, 19 patients brushed once a day, 16 patients brushed twice a day, and 12 patients didn't brush their teeth.
In the present study, 99 out of 158 patients used fluoridated toothpaste, 57 non-fluoridated toothpaste, and 2 patients were not using toothpaste as they were very young and under their mother's assistance in cleaning the oral cavity with a finger. Wright et al. stated that toothpaste with heavy flavoring agents should be avoided as they irritate the oral tissues. In the present study, the patients did not complain of irritation with toothpaste.
Children with leukemia are categorized with a high risk for dental caries. Therefore prevention is essential, but regular oral care and tooth brushing are extremely difficult due to acute nausea, so referral to a pediatric dental surgeon is important. However, only 25 out of 158 patients were referred to a dental surgeon by an oncologist. 133 children were not reviewed for dental health as parents believed milk teeth were dispensable. The results are similar to those of Aarushi et al., who found that out of 47 patients, 6 received dental care from general dentists. Patients were advised chlorhexidine mouth wash and antifungal mouth gargle in the study. Approximately 80% of the children followed these instructions.
During the oral examination of patients with ALL, pale gingiva and buccal mucosa with oral ulcerations, petechiae were detected, which was in accordance with the study conducted by Aarushi et al., mucositis, gingivitis, xerostomia, oral pain, herpes simplex virus, candida infection, and TMJ pain were some of the chemotherapy-induced complications manifested in varying forms and degree of severity. Such changes in the oral cavity can be painful and cause discomfort during eating and drinking. The most commonly seen nonhematological complication of chemotherapy is oral mucositis. 47% of the patients affected were suffering from varying degrees of oral mucositis during the induction phase and with continuous infusion of methotrexate. Jankovic et al., and Gandhi K et al. have reported similar results in their studies of mucositis. This inflammatory condition persists for one week after chemotherapy. Mucositis presents clinically as mild inflammation to severe ulcerations with a risk of local opportunistic and systemic infections affecting the quality of life. The primary management is palliative therapy, which includes home oral hygiene, pain control through analgesics or topical aesthetics, non-medicated oral rinses, and “foam on a stick” with chlorhexidine treatment. Recently, Palifermin, a keratinocyte growth factor-1, and Interleukin-11 have been considered in patients undergoing high-dose chemotherapy; sponges and soft brushes are used in case of severe mucositis.
Gingivitis [23.9%] was the next frequent oral manifestation in the study. However, Ponce-Torres et al., reported a higher incidence of 91.84%. According to Mathur et al., spontaneous gingival bleeding can occur when platelet count drops <20,000 cells per mm3. Gingival hyperplasia is the next commonly seen condition in children with AML due to the infiltration of myeloid cells. One in 10 cases in the study has shown severe gingival hyperplasia.
Xerostomia was reported by 12.2% of patients in this study, which could be linked to salivary gland dysfunction, which can be treated with meticulous oral hygiene, topical fluoride application, and pilocarpine. 11.6% of patients receiving vincristine as part of their treatment reported oral pain. This contrasts with the study conducted by Gandhi et al., where they reported 43.5%. McCarthy and Skillings reported similar findings in their study. They stated that oral pain in the absence of dental and periodontal infection could also be a neurotoxic side effect of vincristine.
Reactivation of latent viruses can lead to infections from the herpes simplex virus, varicella-zoster virus, and the Epstein-Barr virus. In the present study, 3% of individuals suffered from HSV during the relapse phase, which is similar to the study conducted by Figliolia et al.
Oral fungal infections, particularly candidiasis, were seen in patients with prolonged neutropenic episodes. In the study, 1.8% of the patients had candidiasis [oral thrush] on the tongue's dorsal surface, which contrasts with the study conducted by Alnuaimi et al., where 14.2% was reported. The present study showed less expression of candidiasis as the patients were advised oral care during therapy.
| Limitations and Future Prospects|| |
The limitation of this study was that children diagnosed were followed randomly during varying intervals for 10 days. Design can be improvized using a larger sample and at a specified recall time period after diagnosis. Future prospects can involve creating awareness of the regimen of oral care strategies to reduce the severity of pain and discomfort.
| Conclusion|| |
The prevalence of oral symptoms and complications during chemotherapy emphasizes the need for continued dental vigilance during the treatment to improve the general wellness of the children. Early involvement of a pediatric dentist in the management of oral health will prove beneficial to patients.
Pediatric patients receiving chemotherapy need a preventive dental approach for significantly improved treatment outcomes through good oral health maintenance.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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[Figure 1], [Figure 2]
[Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]