Oral microbiota and mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer undergoing radiotherapy: literature review


  • Elerson Gaetti Jardim Junior
  • Adriana de Sales Cunha-Correia
  • Ana Claudia Okamoto
  • Ellen Cristina Gaetti-Jardim




The occurrence and severity of mucositis are the main complaints of patients with head and neck cancer submitted to radiotherapy (RT). This condition appears to be associated with changes in the oral microbiota and other side effects of RT, such as xerostomia and candidiasis. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of RT on the oral microbiota and its impact on radioinduced mucositis through literature review. Descriptors were selected for the collection of information in different databases, especially SciELO, BIREME, LILACS and PubMed. It was decided to consider only articles published since 1985. The descriptors radiotherapy, mucositis, dental caries, xerostomia, head and neck neoplasms and health promotion were used. It was selected 91 articles specifically discussing the microbiological aspects of mucositis, dental caries, oral candidiasis and microbial effects on the oral health of cancer patients, and 59 were included in the review. It was observed that microbial contamination is a secondary phenomenon capable of exacerbate the inflammation induced by the interaction of the radiation with the oral tissues, aggravating mucositis mainly in patients who present precarious conditions of oral hygiene, which reinforces the role of preventive dentistry in the follow up of the irradiated patient.

Descriptors: Radiotherapy; Mucositis; Dental Caries; Xerostomia; Head And Neck Neoplasms; Health Promotion.


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Como Citar

Gaetti Jardim Junior, E., Cunha-Correia, A. de S., Okamoto, A. C., & Gaetti-Jardim, E. C. (2017). Oral microbiota and mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer undergoing radiotherapy: literature review. ARCHIVES OF HEALTH INVESTIGATION, 6(2). https://doi.org/10.21270/archi.v6i2.1797