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Alert Number 69

A Real Pain in the Mouth

Date: January 12, 2005

When you are battling with cancer and cancer therapy, it may seem silly to worry about the odd "cold sore" or "fever blister", or the slightly inflamed gums that bleed just a little when you brush. It is hard to keep up the discipline of brushing after each meal, make and keep the regular appointments with your dentist, when you have so many other things to worry about. There is also the usual hassle of dentists not knowing too much about the risks associated with cancer therapy, and local oncologists not really bothering about dental issues. These "silos" that insulate our experts from broad and across-the-board awareness of problems faced by cancer patients can be the death of us all.

The other day I spent an intense hour in conversation with a dentist who specialized in oncology patients. That conversation prompted this article. Take care of your lips, teeth, gums and mucosal lining of your mouth. Not doing so may mean intense pain, inability to eat, extreme weight loss, longer hospital stays, poorer response to therapy, sepsis, death due to invasive infection. Any and all of the above. Have I got your attention?

I have heard from too many CLL patients who experienced painful sores and infections in their mouths, especially during chemotherapy. This incidence of oral mucositis can have serious consequences to the quality of your life and even survival. There may be a few things you can do to help yourself - read about them in our latest article A Real Pain in the Mouth.

Be well.


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