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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-9

The prosthodontist's role in head and neck cancer and Introduction - Oncologic dentistry

1 Departments of Maxillofacial/Oncologic Dentistry, The James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
2 Maxillofacial/Oral Radiology, The James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky

Correspondence Address:
Zafrula Khan
Maxillofacial Dental Oncology, The James Graham Brown Cancer Center, Suite 125 529, South Jackson Street, Louisville, Kentucky - 40202-3267

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4052.25874

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A comprehensive oral and dental screening should be part of the pre-treatment workup of patients with cancer, especially those who have head and neck tumors. This screening needs to be performed by a Prosthodontist who is familiar with the pathologic process of disease and the type of treatment being rendered; and who comprehends the morbidities associated with eradicating malignancy. Oftentimes, this is a specially trained prosthodontist. According to WHO statistics, individuals living in the Indian subcontinent have the highest prevalence of oral and upper aero-digestive tract malignancies. The afflicted may develop oral complications of cancer treatment, especially from systemic chemotherapy and head and neck radiation therapy. The trend toward people maintaining their teeth longer, coupled with the rising age of the population, suggest that dentists may frequently be treating patients with cancer and should be informed about the aspects of oncologic care that will affect oral health. Unfortunately however, when the cancer curricula of dental schools was investigated, it was found that deficits in "oncologic dentistry" education included failure to provide practical clinical oncology experience in diagnosis, the decision-making process, referral procedures, management of oral complications of cancer therapy, maxillofacial rehabilitation; and psychosocial training in oncology. This article is intended as a primer for prosthodontists, most of whom undoubtedly will need to deal with cancer patients. It is suggested that the prosthodontic curriculum in India include all aspects of "oncologic dentistry."

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