Oral complications at 6 months after radiation therapy for head and neck cancer

for the OraRad Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To examine oral complications 6 months after modern radiation therapy (RT) for head and neck cancer (HNC). Methods: Prospective multicenter cohort study of patients with HNC receiving intensity-modulated radiation therapy or more advanced RT. Stimulated whole salivary flow, maximal mouth opening, oral mucositis, oral pain, oral health-related quality of life (OH-QOL), and oral hygiene practices were measured in 372 subjects pre-RT and 216 subjects at 6 months from the start of RT. Results: Mean stimulated whole salivary flow declined from 1.09 to 0.47 ml/min at 6 months (p <.0001). Mean maximal mouth opening reduced from 45.58 to 42.53 mm at 6 months (p <.0001). 8.1% of subjects had some oral mucositis at 6 months, including 3.8% with oral ulceration. Mean overall pain score was unchanged. OH-QOL was reduced at 6 months, with changes related to dry mouth, sticky saliva, swallowing solid foods, and sense of taste (p ≤.0001). At 6 months, there was greater frequency of using dental floss and greater proportion using supplemental fluoride (p <.0001). Conclusions: Despite advances in RT techniques, patients with HNC experience oral complications 6 months after RT, with resulting negative impacts on oral function and quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1134-1143
Number of pages10
JournalOral Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • head and neck cancer
  • mouth opening
  • oral complications
  • quality of life
  • radiation therapy
  • salivary flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • General Dentistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Oral complications at 6 months after radiation therapy for head and neck cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this