An acute inflammation of the oral mucosa following systemic chemotherapy and/or radiation. Diagnosis is typically based on clinical history and physical examination.
Clinical presentation varies from erythema to patchy or confluent ulceration (often with a superficial pseudomembranous membrane) or, rarely, overt necrosis.
If severe, may warrant an undesirable chemotherapy dose-reduction and/or a break in radiotherapy.
Lesions are often very painful. Treatment is symptomatic and includes oral hygiene and pain control.
Preventive treatments include palifermin, low-level laser therapy, and use of ice-chips during chemotherapy infusion therapy.
Oral mucositis secondary to cancer therapy is an acute inflammation of the oral mucosa in response to systemic chemotherapy and/or radiation to fields involving the oral cavity. The clinical presentation ranges from a general erythematous stomatitis to erosive lesions and overt ulceration. Lesions are often very painful, may compromise nutrition and oral hygiene, and can increase the risk of local and systemic infection. Furthermore, severe oral mucositis may necessitate an undesirable chemotherapy dose-reduction and/or a break in radiotherapy. Therefore, mucositis is a highly significant complication of cancer therapy, with a potential impact on patient prognosis.
History and exam
Rajesh V. Lalla, DDS, PhD, DABOM
Associate Dean for Research
Section of Oral Medicine
University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine
RVL serves as a consultant for Galera Therapeutics, Ingalfarma, Mundipharma and Sucampo Pharma, and has received research funding from Onxeo, Sucampo Pharma, Galera Therapeutics and Novartis.
Michael Brennan, DDS, MHS
Associate Chairman and Oral Medicine Residency Director
Department of Oral Medicine
Carolinas Medical Center
MB is an author of a reference cited in this monograph. MB is part of the Mucositis Study Group of MASCC/ISOO, and participated in the review of mucositis.
Maria Michelagnoli, MB ChB, MD, FRCPCH
Consultant Pediatric and Adolescent Oncologist
University College London Hospitals
MM declares that she has no competing interests.
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