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Pre-radiotherapy dental status of oropharyngeal cancer patients based on HPV status in a novel radiation era

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Vinod Patel, Dipesh Patel, Timothy Browning, Sheelen Patel, Mark McGurk, Isabel Sassoon, Teresa Guerrero Urbano, Michael Fenlon

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


Objectives Among common head and neck cancers (HNCs), oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) patients have been identified as having a better dentition than many other tumour subsites. OPC consists of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive and negative groups with different prognosis. The purpose of this study is to explore the presenting dental status of OPC patients based on HPV status at the pre-radiotherapy phase. Materials and methods The study reviewed the dental panoramic radiographs of OPC patients seen at a dedicated pre-radiotherapy dental assessment clinic from 2011-2017. Only patients planned for intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatment were included within this study. Relevant dental and oncological data were collected. Results A total of 316 patients with known HPV status (215 positive; 101 negative) were included for analysis. HPV-positive patients had significantly more teeth on attendance than HPV-negative patients (22.3 vs 19.0, p = 0.0000) and horizontal bone loss was less severe compared to HPV-negative patients (p = 0.0000). HPV-positive males and patients in the 55-64 decade presented with the best and most complex dentition. Conclusion The rise of OPC with the prospect of long survival, particularly in HPV-positive patients, requires a dentition with adequate function and subsequent maintenance. The current study demonstrated that these patients have a complex dentition presenting new challenges to the dentist. This may explain in part the elevated osteoradionecrosis rate seen in this tumour group.

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