Preventive dental care can reduce the risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) for patients who are about to undergo bisphosphonate therapy, according to a new study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute of Milan in Italy.
The study included 966 cancer patients, 25% of whom were given zoledronic acid (ZOL), 62% pamidronate (PAM), 8% PAM followed by ZOL, and 5% clodronate (Annals of Oncology, July 22, 2008).
"We observed a reduction in the incidence of ONJ from 3.2% to 1.3%, when comparing pre- and postimplementation of preventive measures program," the authors noted.
Among patients exposed to ZOL, a dental exam and preventive measures led to a reduction in ONJ from 7.8% to 1.7%.
"ONJ is a manageable and preventable condition. Our data confirm that the application of preventive measures can significantly reduce the incidence of ONJ in cancer patients receiving [bisphosphonates] therapy," the authors wrote.