Oral Care for Head and Neck Cancer Symptom Management
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An evidence-based practice change at a radiation oncology center in a large academic medical center was designed to reduce the severity of oral mucositis in adults receiving radiation treatment for head and neck cancer. In the intervention described, patients were given newly created oral care kits and educational materials to improve their oral hygiene. Evaluations were conducted at three points during the project (before radiation treatment, during week 4 to 5 of treatment, and one month after treatment). At week 4 to 5—when the severity of oral mucositis is expected to peak—patients reported improved oral hygiene practices and reduced oral mucositis severity. The authors conclude that the use of these oral care kits and educational materials lessened the effects of oral mucositis during and after radiation treatment.