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Temporomandibular disorder in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy: Clinical findings and patient-reported symptoms

Journal article
Authors Nina Pauli
Christina Mejersjö
Bodil Fagerberg-Mohlin
Caterina Finizia
Published in Head and Neck-Journal for the Sciences and Specialties of the Head and Neck
Volume 41
Issue 10
Pages 3570-3576
ISSN 1043-3074
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Odontology
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Otorhinolaryngology
Pages 3570-3576
Language en
Keywords head and neck cancer, radiotherapy, temporomandibular disorder, trismus, quality-of-life, radiation-induced trismus, dysfunction, signs, Otorhinolaryngology, Surgery
Subject categories Otorhinolaryngology


Background The aim of this study was to investigate how common temporomandibular disorder (TMD) symptoms are among head and neck cancer (HNC) patients before and after oncological treatment. Methods Eighty-nine patients with HNC receiving radiotherapy were enrolled in the study. Patients were examined before radiotherapy and at 6 and 12 months after radiotherapy to evaluate the function and tenderness of the temporomandibular jaw and the muscles of mastication as well as the patient-reported symptoms. Results At 6 months after radiotherapy, there was a large increase in the number of patients reporting problems with opening their mouth, fatigue, stiffness, and pain of the jaw. Sixty-eight percent of the patients had symptoms of TMD before oncological treatment and 94% and 81% had symptoms at the 6- and 12-month follow-up, respectively. Conclusion The signs and symptoms of TMD escalate after radiotherapy, with symptoms peaking at 6 months after radiotherapy. Most commonly, patients suffer from restricted mouth opening, stiffness, fatigue, and pain of the jaw.

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