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Special Dental Concerns for Childhood Leukemia Survivors
November 7, 2012

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Children who have survived leukemia may have more dental problems later, say Italian researchers.

Researchers compared 52 leukemia survivors with 52 children who had never had leukemia. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood. In children, it is usually treated with chemotherapy. Some children receive radiation or bone marrow transplants.

The leukemia survivors in the study had been free of the disease for at least 2 years. They ranged in age from 8 to 15. All had received chemotherapy. Seven also had radiation.

Leukemia survivors had an average of 8.3 missing, decayed or filled teeth. This compared with 4.5 missing, decayed or filled teeth in children who hadn't had leukemia.

Leukemia survivors had more teeth that were smaller than normal. They also had more teeth with poorly formed enamel. They were more likely to have permanent teeth that never formed under the gums. Survivors of leukemia also had more teeth with short, V-shaped roots. These roots are not fully developed.

The researchers note that childhood leukemia survivors may need special dental attention.

Other research has suggested that chemotherapy and radiation therapy can affect developing teeth. Cancer therapy also may affect the salivary glands. Changes in saliva can increase the risk for tooth decay.

The Italian study appears in the November 1 issue of the journal Medicina Oral Patologia Oral y Cirugia Bucal (Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Surgery).

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