St. Jude researchers say dental problems caused by radiation, chemotherapy should be treated before a child undergoes immunosuppression as part of bone marrow transplantation therapy
Many children who undergo bone marrow transplantation (BMT) as part of cancer treatment already have dental abnormalities that leave them vulnerable to potentially life-threatening bacterial infections, according to investigators at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital. A report on this study appears in the prepublication online edition of Bone Marrow Transplantation.
The investigators found that the most common dental problem in children about to undergo BMT was tooth decay, often resulting from neglected oral hygiene and poor nutrition. Tooth decay is especially dangerous in children undergoing BMTs because physicians must first suppress their immune systems to reduce the chance of transplant rejection. Therefore, children about to undergo immunosuppression as part of BMTs should have dental checkups, said Sue C. Kaste, D.O., a member of St. Jude Radiological Sciences. "Its important to make sure they do not have cavities that could act as doorways to the bloodstream for disease-causing bacteria," she said.
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