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Oral mucositis may influence the treatment of cancer patients

Oral mucositis may influence the treatment of cancer patients

The therapies used in cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, have the purpose of destroying malignant cells. However, they do not attack only the cells that form the tumor and also reach the healthy tissues. This systemic action causes different side effects to the patient, such as hair loss, decreased immunity and the appearance of mucosal wounds, which when they appear in the mouth are called oral mucositis.

The picture is an inflammatory process that occurs in whole gastro intestinal mucosa. When there is the association of chemotherapy with radiotherapy in the head and neck region, oral mucositis is more frequent and more intense. The main signs of oral mucositis are erythema (redness), edema (swelling) and the presence of wounds that compromise the patient's speech, eating and well-being.

Influence on treatment

If untreated correctly, oral mucositis can progress to severe and painful ulcers (wounds) that prevent proper nutrition and hydration. Nutrition impairment has a negative impact on the general condition of the individual and often requires hospitalization.

In some types of cancer, such as leukemias, the drugs used decrease the production of platelets and leukocytes by exposing the patient to bleeding and reducing immunity. The presence of sores in the mouth allows microorganisms to enter the systemic circulation and, due to low immunity, there is a high risk of developing bacteremia and septicemia.

Intense oral mucositis is a limiting dose of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and there is often a need to stop or decrease the doses of these therapies, which may compromise the treatment of cancer.


Prior to initiation of cancer treatment, the patient should be evaluated by the dental surgeon to check for outbreaks of periodontal infection ( in the gingiva), periapical (related to the canal), cavities and possible causes of mucosal traumas such as tooth cusps, orthodontic appliances and maladaptive prostheses.

The guidance of special oral hygiene care for this stage of cancer treatment must be rigorously performed by the patient. The use of very soft toothbrushes and the appropriate technique, the use of specific mouthwashes and mucous moisturizers are very important and can make a difference in the patient's well-being. In addition, patients can rely on laser therapy, a technology that acts in the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis.

Laser therapy

All cells of our body produce energy for their survival from the process of cellular respiration. When the cell is under stress, this process becomes unbalanced and there is insufficient energy production to maintain cellular vitality. With cell death, there is the release of large amount of free radicals. These radicals can cause damage to other cells and thus, a cascade of events occurs that destroy the biological tissues.

Laser therapy uses the low power laser to promote the rebalancing of the cellular respiration process, and as a result, occurs the normalization of energy production and the reduction of free radical release. This energy is optimally produced and is used to maintain cellular vitality and promote repair of the affected tissue.

In oral mucositis, laser therapy produces a rapid analgesic effect (decrease in pain) and accelerates the healing process even in immunosuppressed patients

Laser therapy is completely painless, non-invasive and the very important point is that it presents low risks of side effects. In addition, it is a well-accepted therapy for patients, both adults and children.

The use of laser therapy to prevent and treat oral mucositis is standard practice in several bone marrow transplant centers in Brazil and worldwide. The International Agency for the Advancement of Cancer (MASCC / ISOO), an international body that publishes guidelines on cancer patient care, recommends the use of the low intensity laser for cases of marrow transplantation and also suggests this therapy when radiotherapy is in the head and neck region.

Consult your dentist and learn more about associating specific oral care with laser therapy. This is undoubtedly a great combination for combating oral mucositis in patients undergoing oncologic treatment.

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