Mouth health and cancer treatment
Cancer treatment aims to destroy or remove cancer cells. However some cancer treatments can often harm other cells in the body and cause side effects. Treatments that affect the rapidly dividing cancer cells also affect other rapidly dividing cells, such as the cells that line the mouth and gut.
This information is about side effects of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery or a combination of treatments that affect the mouth area. Many people have mouth (oral) side effects even if the cancer is in another part of their body.
Talk to your doctor and health care team about the side effects you may have from your treatment.
Having problems that affect your mouth can be difficult to cope with, but most gradually improve and go away after your treatment is over. There are ways to manage the side effects you may experience.
This information does not replace the advice of a healthcare professional.
Learn more about:
- Mouth care before treatment
- Oral side effects caused by cancer treatments
- Mucositis and dry mouth
- Mouth care during treatment
- How can carers help
This information was developed in May 2016 and reviewed by: Professor Richard Logan, Oral Pathology and Deputy Head of School, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, SA, Dr Sharon Liberali, Director and Consultant, Special Needs Unit, Adelaide Dental Hospital, SA Dental Service, Megan Nutt, Head and Neck Cancer Specialist Nurse, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital, ACT, Katherine Garner, Radiation Oncology Dietitian, Northern NSW Cancer Institute, Robyn Burnett, Speech Pathologist, Royal Adelaide Hospital, Mary Mills, Head and Neck Cancer Survivor, Karen Hall, Clinical Nurse, Flinders Medical Centre and 13 11 20 nurse SA.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.
- Caring for Someone with Cancer Download PDF396kB
- Understanding Chemotherapy Download PDF408kB
- Understanding Radiation Therapy Download PDF423kB
- Understanding Surgery Download PDF450kB
- Caring for Someone with Cancer ebook Download ePUB1.16MB
- Understanding Chemotherapy ebook Download ePUB1.01MB
- Understanding Radiation Therapy ebook Download ePUB1001kB
- Understanding Surgery ebook Download ePUB664kB