Current practice and knowledge of oral care for cancer patients: A survey of supportive health care providers

Gerry J. Barker*, Joel B. Epstein, Karen B. Williams, Meir Gorsky, Judith E. Raber-Durlacher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: The Oral Care Study Section of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) and the International Society for Oral Oncology (ISOO) conducted a survey on clinical practices of oral/dental management of cancer patients among supportive health care providers. The main purpose was to evaluate the knowledge and current practice for preventing and managing oral side effects associated with intensive chemotherapy (ICT), hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT), and radiation therapy to the head and neck (H&N RT). Materials and methods: A questionnaire designed and pretested was sent to 212 MASCC/ISOO members around the world with different dental and medical backgrounds. Main results: Seventy-four individuals (35%) responded. The majority of respondents were aware of possible oral complications and provided patients with clinical strategies and recommendations although there was considerable variability among the respondents. Approximately 75% stated that patients were referred for oral/dental care prior to H&N RT and ICT including HCT. However, integrated dental and medical services were reported available in only about 25% of the institutions, and most patients were referred to community-based dental professionals. Main conclusions: The survey represents a first review of current, international oral care practices. It suggests a need to develop evidence-based clinical guidelines to support effective oral/dental interventions and management strategies for this population. Furthermore, strategies for implementation of oral care protocols and better integration of dental and medical services should be developed. Caution in interpreting these findings is urged due to the limited response rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-41
Number of pages10
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Oral care in cancer
  • Oral complications
  • Oral mucositis
  • Supportive care


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