Oral toxicity produced by chemotherapy: A systematic review

J Clin Exp Dent. 2014 Feb 1;6(1):e81-90. doi: 10.4317/jced.51337. eCollection 2014 Feb.


Introduction: Antineoplastic chemotherapy remains one of the most widely used management strategies in cancer, either alone or in combination with other types of treatment. The main inconvenience of chemotherapy is its lack of selectivity, since it acts upon both tumor cells and rapidly multiplying normal cells such as bone marrow cells, hair follicle cells and oral and gastrointestinal mucosal cells.

Material and method: An exhaustive search was made of the main oral toxic effects of chemotherapy in the PubMed-Medline, Cochrane Library and Scopus databases. A total of 1293 articles were identified, of which 333 met the study inclusion criteria.

Results: The toxic effects of chemotherapy at oral mucosal level comprise mucositis, osteonecrosis of the jaws secondary to bisphosphonate use, susceptibility to infections, dental alterations, salivary and neurological disorders, dysgeusia and bleeding tendency. These complications have a negative impact upon patient quality of life, and in some cases can prove life-threatening.

Conclusions: Evaluation of patient oral and dental health is essential before administering chemotherapy, in order to minimize the risk of oral and systemic complications of such treatment. Key words:Chemotherapy, oral complications, dental, saliva and osteonecrosis jaw.

Publication types

  • Review