Journal of Disability and Oral Health

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December 2012
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An audit of the dental assessment of head and neck cancer patients and evaluation of a multi-disciplinary clinic

Doi: 10.4483/JDOH_010Rahman08

Abstract The toxic side effects of radiotherapy for cancer of the head and neck region are severe, particularly osteoradionecrosis which has considerable morbidity and adversely affects quality of life. Osteoradionecrosis can be reduced by a thorough dental assessment and extractions of teeth with poor prognosis prior to radiotherapy, ideally at least ten days before radiotherapy commences. Aim and Objectives: To examine whether patients were assessed and extractions carried out in sufficient time before radiotherapy. A secondary aim was to assess the impact of a newly established weekly multidisciplinary clinic. Method: Data were collected from patient records over four, six-monthly periods (January 2007 - February 2011). Analysis showed the number of patients referred; time interval between referral and assessment; number of patients requiring extractions; time interval before this was carried out and interval between the last extraction and commencement of radiotherapy. Results: In 2007 only 20 people with head and neck cancer were referred for dental assessment in the six month audit period. There was a threefold increase in the number of referrals over four years. The most recent audit showed 51% of patients were assessed within ten days of referral. Extractions were undertaken on 56% of patients, 95% were in excess of ten days before radiotherapy, 57% over 20 days. Conclusions: There is a favourable increase in the number of head and neck cancer patients being referred for dental assessment. Despite larger numbers national guidelines for extractions are being met in 95% of cases and the majority in excess of minimum timing recommended. The multidisciplinary clinic is providing quality care for this patient group as measured by this audit, showing a positive service outcome.

Key words: Head and neck cancer, dental assessment, multi-disciplinary clinic

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Naomi Rahman, Annika Patel, Jerry Kwok, Mary Burke

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  1. Index to JDOH Volume 13 2012
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  1. Thanks to reviewers 2012
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