Symptoms of the oral cavity and their association with local microbiological and clinical findings--a prospective survey in palliative care

Support Care Cancer. 2012 Mar;20(3):531-7. doi: 10.1007/s00520-011-1114-z. Epub 2011 Feb 19.


Purpose: Symptoms of the oral cavity clearly encompass more than radiation or chemotherapy-induced mucositis. Still, the burden of oral symptoms in palliative care has hardly been addressed directly, and considerations towards underlying disease processes have often been extrapolated from oncology patients.

Methods: We therefore conducted a prospective explorative survey with pilot character on patients on a specialized palliative care unit, describing symptom pattern (self assessment), clinical signs, bacteriological, mycological and virological findings, and correlating features of clinical history.

Results: Taste disturbances, dry mouth and the presence of Candida were found to be the most prevalent and correlating items. The broad spectrum of further symptoms, signs and findings did not show relevant correlations and did not permit any unilateral causal attributions.

Conclusions: Apart from the described focus on Candida colonisation/infections, a symptom-guided polypragmatic approach therefore seems to be justifiable for patients with oral symptoms in palliative care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Candida / isolation & purification
  • Candidiasis, Oral / diagnosis
  • Candidiasis, Oral / epidemiology*
  • Candidiasis, Oral / microbiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Dental Caries / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Palliative Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Taste Disorders / diagnosis
  • Taste Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Xerostomia / diagnosis
  • Xerostomia / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult