Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 24, Issue 11, pp 4815–4824

Self-reported oral health and quality of life of postmenopausal breast cancer survivors on aromatase inhibitors and women without cancer diagnoses: a longitudinal analysis

  • L. Susan Taichman
  • Catherine H. Van Poznak
  • Marita R. Inglehart
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00520-016-3336-6

Cite this article as:
Taichman, L.S., Van Poznak, C.H. & Inglehart, M.R. Support Care Cancer (2016) 24: 4815. doi:10.1007/s00520-016-3336-6



Aromatase inhibitors (AIs) are a well-established component of adjuvant therapy in postmenopausal women with hormone receptor (HR) + early stage breast cancer (BCa). We explored in an 18-month cohort study whether subjective oral health (OH), subjective periodontal health (PH), and oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) of postmenopausal BCa survivors on AIs differ from those of women without cancer diagnoses, and whether saliva flow, OH, PH, and OHRQoL are related.


Data were collected from 29 postmenopausal BCa survivors on AIs and 29 postmenopausal women without cancer diagnoses. Socio-demographic information, OH, PH, and OHRQoL were collected at baseline and 6, 12, and 18 months later. Unstimulated whole saliva volume per 15 min was determined by drooling.


The two groups did not differ in background characteristics at baseline. Women on AIs had poorer OH (p = .043), PH (p = .04), and OHRQoL (p = .017), and lower saliva flow rate (p < .001) than control respondents. BCa survivors had the poorest PH at the 18-month visit. Xerostomia was correlated with OH at baseline and with OH and PH at 18 months. However, objective saliva flow rate was not correlated with OH or OHRQoL at this visit.


This study is the first to investigate the effects of AIs on patients’ subjective OH, subjective PH, and OHRQoL. The data suggest that women treated with AIs have worse OH, PH, and OHRQoL than women without cancer diagnoses. Interprofessional care is recommended so that women on AIs receive optimal supportive oral care to assure long-term OH and positive OHRQoL.

Trial registration NCT01272570


Oral health Periodontitis Quality of life Aromatase inhibitors Breast neoplasms Saliva 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
  • K23DEO21779
Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research
  • UL1RR024986

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Susan Taichman
    • 1
  • Catherine H. Van Poznak
    • 2
  • Marita R. Inglehart
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, School of DentistryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Oncology DivisionUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine, School of Dentistry & Department of Psychology, College of Literature, Science & ArtsUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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