Supportive Care in Head and Neck Cancer Patients: The Role of Occupational Therapist. Review
Keywords:: Adverse effects, Dentistry, Head and neck cancer, Occupational therapy, Radiotherapy
Background: Patients diagnosed with malignant head and neck cancer undergoing radiotherapy have
negative impacts on oral health and, consequently, on quality of life, especially in older patients who
already have peculiar age changes and altered physiological conditions. Radiotherapy in the head and
neck region can cause some side effects, such as hyposalivation, xerostomia, mucositis, dysgeusia,
dysphagia, trismus, candidiasis, osteoradionecrosis and radiation-related caries. Thus, a multidisciplinary
approach is needed to increase the chances of successful treatment of side effects. This review focused
on the role of the occupational therapist in the care of patients with head and neck cancer.
Methods: A literature search was carried out in the MEDLINE database from the year 2010 to 2021.
Conclusion: The multidisciplinary approach provides improvements in oral functions, directly affecting
the quality of life and survival of cancer patients. Therefore, it is extremely important to aggregate
occupational therapy actions in multidisciplinary care involving other professionals, such as dentists in
order to promote an adequate treatment for this category of patients.
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