Cancer treatment-induced oral mucositis

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Oral mucositis is one of the main complications in non-surgical cancer treatments. It represents the major dose-limiting toxicity for some chemotherapeutic agents, for radiotherapy of the head and neck region and for some radiochemotherapy combined treatments. Many reviews and clinical studies have been published in order to define the best clinical protocol for prophylaxis or treatment of mucositis, but a consensus has not yet been obtained. This paper represents an updated review of prophylaxis and treatment of antineoplastic-therapy-related mucositis using a MEDLINE search up to May 2006, in which more than 260 clinical studies have been found. They have been divided according to antineoplastic therapy (chemotherapy, radiotherapy, chemo-radiotherapy, high-dose chemotherapy). The prophylactic or therapeutic use of the analysed agents, the number of enrolled patients and the study design (randomized or not) were also specified for most studies. Accurate pre-treatment assessment of oral cavity hygiene, frequent review of symptoms during treatment, use of traditional mouthwashes to obtain mechanical cleaning of the oral cavity and administration of some agents like benzydamine, imidazole antibiotics, tryazolic antimycotics, povidone iodine, keratinocyte growth factor and vitamin E seem to reduce the intensity of mucositis. Physical approaches like cryotherapy, low energy Helium-Neon laser or the use of modern radiotherapy techniques with the exclusion of the oral cavity from radiation fields have been shown to be efficacious in preventing mucositis onset. Nevertheless a consensus protocol of prophylaxis and treatment of oral mucositis has not yet been obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1105-1125
Number of pages21
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Mucositis
  • Radiotherapy
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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