Research Frontiers in Oral Toxicities of Cancer Therapies: Osteoradionecrosis of the Jaws

Spijkervet, F. K. L., Brennan, M. T., Peterson, D. E., Witjes, M. J. H. & Vissink, A., 1-Aug-2019, In : Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Monographs. 2019, 53, 9 p.

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  • Research Frontiers in Oral Toxicities of Cancer Therapies Osteoradionecrosis of the Jaws

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The deleterious effects of head and neck radiation on bone, with osteoradionecrosis (ORN) as the major disabling side effect of head and neck cancer treatment, are difficult to prevent and hard to treat. This review focuses on the current state of the science regarding the pathobiology, clinical impact, and management of ORN. With regard to the pathobiology underlying ORN, it is not yet confirmed whether the current radiation schedules by 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy and intensity modified radiotherapy result in an unchanged, decreased, or increased risk of developing ORN when compared with conventional radiation treatment, the main risk factor being the total radiation dose delivered on any clinically significant surface of the mandible. With regard to the prevention of ORN, a thorough, early pre-irradiation dental assessment is still considered the first step to reduce the hazard of developing ORN post-radiotherapy, and hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment reduces the risk of developing ORN in case of dental surgery in an irradiated field. With regard to the treatment of ORN, the focus is bidirectional: elimination of the necrotic bone and improving the vascularity of the normal tissues that were included in the radiation portal. The cure rate of limited ORN by conservative therapy is approximately 50%, and the cure rate of surgical approaches when conservative therapy has failed is approximately 40%. Whether it is effective to support conservative or surgical treatment with HBO as an adjuvant is not set. HBO treatment is shown to increase the vascularity of hard and soft tissues and has been reported to be beneficial in selected cases. However, in randomized clinical trials comparing the preventive effect of HBO on developing ORN with, eg, antibiotic coverage in patients needing dental surgery, the preventive effect of HBO was not shown to surpass that of a more conservative approach. More recently, pharmacologic management was introduced in the treatment of ORN with success, but its efficacy has to be confirmed in randomized clinical trials. The major problem of performing well-designed randomized clinical trials in ORN is having access to large numbers of patients with well-defined, comparable cases of ORN. Because many institutions will not have large numbers of such ORN cases, national and international scientific societies must be approached to join multicenter trials. Fortunately, the interest of funding organizations and the number researchers with an interest in healthy aging is growing. Research aimed at prevention and reduction of the morbidity of cancer treatment fits well within these programs.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute. Monographs
Issue number53
Publication statusPublished - 1-Aug-2019

ID: 94905069