Medline: 3625260

Journal of Clinical Oncology 5(9): 1461-1468, 1987.

Microbiology of acute periodontal infection in myelosuppressed cancer patients.

Peterson DE, Minah GE, Overholser CD, et al.


This study characterized the subgingival microbial flora associated with 27 acute exacerbations of preexistent periodontal disease in 24 patients with chemotherapy-induced myelosuppression. All but two acute periodontal infections developed at low granulocyte levels (less than 1,000/microL). Suspected pathogens were detected in high concentrations in subgingival plaque specimens in 17 episodes of acute periodontal infection; a single pathogen was recovered in ten acute infections, and more than one pathogen was recovered in seven acute infections. Staphylococcus epidermidis, Candida albicans, S aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa predominated, with combinations of these detected in some patients. Concomitant bacteremias developed in two of these patients. The subgingival microflora associated with ten acute periodontal infections was characterized by predominantly indigenous microorganisms, which in nine episodes were in abnormal proportions compared with microbial profiles in noncancer patients with similar degrees of periodontal disease. These data demonstrate that pathogens normally associated with infections in myelosuppressed cancer patients, as well as indigenous oral flora, are associated with acute periodontal infections during granulocytopenia. This finding is important, since this body site has not commonly been recognized as a source for acute infection in these patients.

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