Symptom clusters and oral oncology perspectives

Douglas Peterson, DMD, PhD, FDS RCSEd of UConn Health, Farmington, CT discusses working towards a better understanding as to why patients develop a constellation of toxicities, referred to as a symptom cluster. Certain cancer treatments such as head and neck radiation, can cause a wide range of clusters of toxicities. With head and neck radiation, patients can develop oral mucositis and for some, it can disrupt their cancer therapy due to pain. They may even need to be hospitalized due to the severity of their pain. A patient may also develop fatigue, or taste changes. They may be unable to support their nutrition, therefore, will require assistance with that. Dr. Peterson mentions that symptoms can be treated in isolation, which is often the case in contemporary oncology practice. However, if common pathways can be found between a number of symptoms caused by radiation or high dose chemotherapy, this opens the door for new treatment research directed at a common pathway across these symptom clusters.Recorded at the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) and International Society of Ocular Oncology (ISOO) 2016 Annual Meeting on Supportive Care in Cancer held in Adelaide, Australia.

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