Dental work before radiation and chemo

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Dental work before radiation and chemo

by Memah on Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:00 AM

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Why is dental work so important before rad and chemo?  And what is usually done?  My father is newly-diagnosed with stage IV base of tongue cancer that has spread to lymph nodes on both sides of his neck.  He does not talk to me much (we live across the country from each other), even by phone, anymore, as he has a new woman in his life whom he plans to marry after treatment.  I think he has no idea what treatment could be like and how he might feel after it is completed.  I'm so frustrated.  I would appreciate any help or encouragement.  His chemo is to be Erbitux.  What kind of side effects might he expect from that?

Thank you.  Maggie

RE: Dental work before radiation and chemo

by Surveyor on Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:00 AM

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Hi Memah,

Dental work is important because of the radiation to the jawline that your father will receive.  The radiation will severely damage the blood supply to the teeth and jaw.  Your father must have any teeth problems resolved prior to treatment so that infection does not set in during or after treatment.  If that were to happen with the compromised blood supply, the infection could be life threatening and could require treatment in a hyperbaric chamber where  oxygen would be pressurized to force it into the tissue.  Along with the diminished blood supply, you father will also experience dry mouth because the radiation may damage his salivary glands.  Your father will also probably be required to treat his teeth with flouride everyday for the rest of his life.

In August of 2003, I was diagnosed with SCC in the left side of my neck.  I had a radical neck dissection in September and began 8 weeks of chemo and 10 weeks of radiation in October.  I had very healthy teeth, but still had to have an extensive evaluation done prior to treatment.  My dentist said that he sometimes reccomends that some patients have all their teeth removed in order to preclude any chance of infection.  Luckily I he did not recommend anything that drastic, but I have to treat my teeth every day with flouride and be careful of what I eat.

As far as his treatmen goes and what he should expect, he is about to begin a very difficult time in his life.  Things will seem very bleak at times and he will need all the support he can get.  He will lose his sense of taste, develop mouth and throat sores and become very tired.

 The chemo I received was Taxol and Cistplatin.  I am unfamiliar with Erbitux and don't know what to tell you about it.  Maybe someone else out there can help you with this.

However dark the next months seem, please understand that they will get better.  I am now almost 4 years post treatment and am doing great.  My taste has returned and my energy level is back.  I am doing all the things I did before I was diagnosed and the side affects, mainly dry mouth, are manageable.  It will take a year to a year and a half for your father to fully recover, however.  I believe a huge part of recovery and beating this disease is attitude.  If he can keep a positive attitude, he will do well.  It will be a struggle at times, but he can do it.

RE: Dental work before radiation and chemo

by Memah on Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:00 AM

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Surveyor, thank you so much for your detailed information.  I appreciate it so much.  My father is 87, and I wonder whether this treatment will be too much for him.  He is casual in his approach to what it could be like, but is otherwise living his life happily. 

I know he went to the dentist this morning, but I haven't heard yet what work has to be done.  His teeth have never been good so I suspect he may have to have them all pulled.  And if this is the case, I suppose that will postpone the start of treatment.  I read somewhere that radiation cannot be started until after 14-21 days after the completion of dental work.

 He doesn't make any efforts to find out what this treatment is going to be like, and he really isn't paying much attention to what I say either.  That is really hard for me.  Maybe denial is a good thing in this case, although I don't think it's as much denial as it is not caring too much about what it's going to be like.  He just wants it to be over.  Well, doesn't everybody?  But I think going into it with knowledge will better prepare him.  Maybe that's just me.

His bottom teeth have become actually black.  I wonder if that means he already has a jaw infection.  I understand that is a disaster if it happens.  It probably means those teeth have died.  I haven't seen him since Christmas, as he lives in Arizona and I live in Michigan.

Again, thank you for your help.  I don't know much about this.  Unfortunately, we find out a lot fast, but it's not really information we like to have.

Maggie

RE: Dental work before radiation and chemo

by Secondopprotunity on Fri Jun 29, 2007 12:00 AM

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I was 38 years old when I found out I had cancer in my neck. I now am 50 and doing well. I had 5 golf ball size nodes in my neck that wrapped around my carrodid artery.

Are they planning on doing the treatments of chemo and radiation at the same time?

 

 

RE: Dental work before radiation and chemo

by Memah on Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:00 AM

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On 6/29/2007 Secondopprotunity wrote:

I was 38 years old when I found out I had cancer in my neck. I now am 50 and doing well. I had 5 golf ball size nodes in my neck that wrapped around my carrodid artery.

Are they planning on doing the treatments of chemo and radiation at the same time?

 

 

Second Opportunity, your name is perfect.  Congrats on doing so well and for so long.  You know, most of the people I read about on this message board are younger rather than older.  My father is 87, and I wonder how that will affect his response to treatment. 

His treatment, by the way, is going to be a combination of five days a week of radiation for seven weeks, and weekly chemo.   

Thank you for responding.  I really appreciate any information.

Maggie

RE: Dental work before radiation and chemo

by Secondopprotunity on Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:00 AM

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On 7/1/2007 Memah wrote:

 

On 6/29/2007 Secondopprotunity wrote:

I was 38 years old when I found out I had cancer in my neck. I now am 50 and doing well. I had 5 golf ball size nodes in my neck that wrapped around my carrodid artery.

Are they planning on doing the treatments of chemo and radiation at the same time?

 

 

Second Opportunity, your name is perfect.  Congrats on doing so well and for so long.  You know, most of the people I read about on this message board are younger rather than older.  My father is 87, and I wonder how that will affect his response to treatment. 

His treatment, by the way, is going to be a combination of five days a week of radiation for seven weeks, and weekly chemo.   

Thank you for responding.  I really appreciate any information.

Maggie

Maggie

My heart goes out to you and your father. I did 38 radiation treatments. At the same time they put me on chemo 24 hours a day for 5 straight days in the hospital. I would go home for two weeks and during that time I had to come back each day to do the radiation. I did the chemo treatment 3 times. As they told me at the time the cancer may not get me but the treatment will. They were correct. It was hell both mentally and physically.

I wish they had taken out all my teeth. The sores in my mouth were the size of quarters and I know at one time there were at least 15. The pain was incrediable. Back then they did not give you a feeding tube. But i can say over time you were not hungry. I lost alot of weight.

The doctors in Indianapolis told me then that the chemo helped like a magnet for the radiation. It would pull more radiation in to help shrink the tumors.

At that time the doctors said they knew by the way people sad in the chair how well they would do with the war against their cancer. Positive Mental Attitude was required, they believed a PMA was 60-70% of winning the war. After going thru it I believe it is at least 80% of winning. The doctors felt if the patients eye's staired at the floor and did not look up they had given up already and would not make it. On the doctor's staff was a phycologust that we could call. I was a man then that felt proud and did not need help so I did not ask them of help, I wish now that I had.

Your father is in for a hard war. The battles will start out daily, then they will be hourly, then go to min. to min. It is going to take everything he has and more just to get thru the treatment. I can not imagine not having family with him to help in so many ways. If it was not for family I would not be here on earth.

After I did the treatments, I also had surgery to remove what they thought was either scar tissue or cancer. It was scar tissue.

Even today they continue to tell me to enjoy my time, that they can not find the cancer.

Your father needs to Believe he will be ok, and he will be. Needs to keep a Positive Mental Attitude, always upbeat. Neads to keep his Faith, God Loves Us All. Last but not least he must Never, Never, Never Give Up.

 

 

 

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