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Oral care and survival time in terminally ill patients with cancer: nested case–control pilot study
  1. Youn Seon Choi1,
  2. Yoo Jeong Lee1,
  3. In Cheol Hwang2 and
  4. Hong Yup Ahn3
  1. 1Department of Family Medicine, Korea University Guro Hospital, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of)
  2. 2Department of Family Medicine, Gil Medical Center, Gachon University College of Medicine, Incheon, Korea (the Republic of)
  3. 3Department of Statistics, Dongguk University, Seoul, Korea (the Republic of)
  1. Correspondence to Dr In Cheol Hwang, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Incheon, Korea (the Republic of); spfe0211{at}

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Terminally ill patients with cancer suffer from various troublesome symptoms, including oral problems, which have a significantly detrimental effect on their quality of life but are often not considered a priority.1 Some studies have demonstrated that simple oral care can improve oral problems,2 but this effect may be transient and deteriorate in the long run. Furthermore, oral problems can be an indirect cause of mortality in patients with advanced cancer, that is, oral colonisation can lead to systemic infection.3 Research has suggested that oral status is associated with poor survival in the palliative care setting4; however, to date, we are not aware of previous studies that have investigated the impact of oral care on survival.

We designed a nested case–control study in a palliative care unit of Korea University Guro Hospital, South Korea. All patients were terminally ill with cancer, likely to die within months and referred from home care or other facilities. The case group was from an intervention study conducted in August–December 2022, the aim of which was to examine the change of oral status by 1-week oral care. The controls were patients admitted during the same duration (5 months, March–July 2022). The eligibility criteria for both groups were the absence of head and neck cancer and admission to a palliative care …

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  • YSC and YJL are joint first authors.

  • Contributors YSC and YJL collected data, interpreted results and wrote the draft. ICH designed study, interpreted results and edited manuscript. HYA analysed the data. YSC and YJL contributed equally as first author.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Gachon University Gil Medical Center (grant no. FRD2021-14).

  • Disclaimer The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.