A systematic review of dental disease management in cancer patients



This systematic review aims to update on the prevalence of odontogenic-related infections and the efficacy of dental strategies in preventing dental-related complications in cancer patients since the 2010 systematic review.

Review method

A literature search was conducted in the databases MEDLINE/PubMed and EMBASE for articles published between 1 January 2009 and 30 June 2016. Each study was assessed by 2 reviewers and the body of evidence for each intervention was assigned an evidence level.


After examination of the abstracts and full-text articles, 59 articles satisfied the inclusion criteria. The weighted prevalence of dental infections and pericoronitis during cancer therapy was 5.4 and 5.3%, respectively. The frequency of dental-related infections during intensive chemotherapy after complete, partial, and minimal pre-cancer dental evaluation/treatment protocols ranged from 0 to 4%. Protocols involving third molars extractions had the highest complications (40%).


In view of the low prevalence of infections and the potential for complications after third molar extractions, it is suggested that partial dental evaluation/treatment protocols prior to intensive chemotherapy; whereby minor caries (within dentin), asymptomatic third molars or asymptomatic teeth without excessive probing depth (<8 mm), mobility (mobility I or II) or with periapical lesions of <5 mm were observed; is a viable option when there is insufficient time for complete dental evaluation/treatment protocols. The use of chlorhexidine, fluoride mouth rinses as well as composite resin, resin-modified glass ionomer cement (GIC), and amalgam restorations over conventional GIC in post head and neck radiation patients who are compliant fluoride users is recommended.

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The authors thank Ms. Sim Yu Fan for helping with the statistical analyses for this manuscript. We would like to also thank Dr. Sharon Tan for assisting with the data management.

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Correspondence to Catherine H. L. Hong.

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Hong, C.H.L., Hu, S., Haverman, T. et al. A systematic review of dental disease management in cancer patients. Support Care Cancer 26, 155–174 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-017-3829-y

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  • Dental caries
  • Periodontal disease
  • Anti-neoplastic agents
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation