Oral Health Taskforce Empowers Patients With Cancer to Reduce the Risk of Dental Complications

Advocacy Groups | <b>Partnership to Reduce Cancer in RI</b>

Cancer treatments can cause oral complications, but a taskforce is helping to reduce those side effects.

Oral health concerns can be prominent in the lives of those going through cancer therapy, yet information is often difficult to find. A team of stakeholders committed to oral health of individuals and families going through cancer therapy has developed a website with information to empower patients and providers to reduce the risk of complications and named it The Dental Oncology Knowledge Center of Rhode Island.

Therapies may cause mouth sores and dry mouth and increase the risk of cavities. Diet modifications, comforting rinses and gels, and proper preventive agents can be the answer, but in many cases people are not familiar with these solutions. The Oral Health Taskforce of the Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island was developed in 2020 after hearing about potential but preventable oral health complications and includes members of the academic, clinical and public health communities. With sponsorship from critical organizations including Delta Dental of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Foundation, and the Rhode Island Department of Health, a focus group with subject matter experts created content for the website. The goal was to present material and resources in a concise and attractive way. There is information for patients which explains potential problems and how best to prevent and manage, and information for providers to maximize their ability to screen for problems and make referrals as needed.

Nutrition is a critical aspect to support a person’s ability to proceed through cancer care and prevent future problems, so a section on nutrition is also provided.

This is just the beginning for the website as it will use feedback from the focus group to make it more valuable for patients and providers. The beauty of a website, different from a printed book, is that it is a living document that can easily be updated.

In addition, technology will be used both to develop a virtual robot so visitors can come to the site and get answers to questions that they pose and to analyze what types of concerns visitors have based on searches to maximize the opportunity to provide sought after information. The Taskforce will also use analytics to see how visitors are using the website to make it more helpful for visitors. Visit The Dental Oncology Knowledge Center of Rhode Island at https://www.prcri.org/oral-health.