Patients who have undergone radiation therapy for head and neck cancer are at increased risk for dental disease. Preventive dental care and routine restorative care are important to prevent significant problems during and after radiation therapy. Dentists' willingness to treat patients with head and neck cancer who have undergone radiation therapy is variable. The factors cited for dentists not treating this group include concern about reimbursement, fear about potential consequences, and discomfort in working with this population. Radiation oncologists' experience and training regarding treatment of head and neck cancer is variable as well. It is not known if all head and neck cancer patients in Michigan treated with radiotherapy are routinely referred for dental management before, during and after therapy, and if not, what are the variables affecting this practice?
This is a survey study which requests dentists and radiation onclogists in Michigan to respond to questions about their current attitudes and practice in caring for patients receiving radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. The survey includes a case-based quiz to assess familiarity with current evidence-based care guidelines.
This information will be used to design an educational intervention and/or an intervention to address barriers to evidence-based dental care for this population of patients in Michigan.