Key words Xerostomia
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract An 11-item face-to-face survey was conducted in 99 consecutive patients with advanced cancer to determine the prevalence, intensity, reporting and treatment, presumed cause(s), and importance of mouth pain and dryness. Sixteen of the 99 patients (16%) reported experiencing mouth pain at a mean intensity corresponding to 5.5±SD 2.21 on a 0 (no pain) to 10 (worst possible pain) numerical scale, and 88 (88%) patients reported dry mouth at a mean intensity corresponding to 6.2±SD 2.21. Nine (56%) of the 16 patients with mouth pain and 39 (44%) of the 88 patients with mouth dryness reported these symptoms to their attending physician(s). Sixty-nine percent (27/39) of patients who reported having a dry mouth were advised by their physician(s) to pursue one or more treatments. The most common treatments recommended (and frequencies) were drinking water/taking sips of fluid (13), gargling with bicarbonate mouthwash (4), using an artificial saliva spray (4), and using an oral fungal suspension for thrush (4). The most common findings on oral examination included: possible thrush (53 patients), upper and lower dentures (33 patients), and multiple dental restorations (23 patients). The causes most frequently assumed to be responsible were ill-fitting dentures for mouth pain, and medications and possible oral fungal infections for mouth dryness. The mean values given for the importance of the symptoms of mouth pain and dryness relative to other symptoms or problems experienced by the patients were 4.4±SD 1.84 and 3.6±SD 1.67, respectively, on a Likert scale ranging from 1 (not important) to 7 (great importance). Mouth dryness was more frequently reported than mouth pain. The mean rating for the intensity of mouth pain was higher than that for mouth dryness, although both were of moderate importance to patients relative to other symptoms or problems experienced at the time. Patients tended to underreport mouth pain and dryness, and physicians tended to address such complaints inadequately.
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