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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006 Jul 1;65(3):745-50.

Zinc supplementation to improve mucositis and dermatitis in patients after radiotherapy for head-and-neck cancers: a double-blind, randomized study.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Chi-Mei Foundation Medical Center, Yungkang City, Tainan, Taiwan.



To determine whether zinc supplementation can accelerate the healing of mucositis and dermatitis after radiotherapy.


In this double-blind study, patients were placed into two randomized groups (experimental and control) of 50 patients each. The groups were homogeneous with respect to medical history, tumor characteristics, and therapeutic details. The experimental group received a standard dose of a zinc supplement, and the control group was given a placebo.


Patients in the control group developed Grade 2 mucositis and dermatitis earlier and sooner than patients in the experimental group. There was also a significant difference in the development of Grade 3 mucositis and dermatitis between the two groups. Patients in the experimental group were found to have milder mucositis and dermatitis. Zinc supplementation did not show much benefit in those patients receiving concurrent chemotherapy or make a substantial impact on weight changes.


Zinc supplementation used in conjunction with radiotherapy could postpone the development of severe mucositis and dermatitis for patients with cancers of the head and neck. Zinc supplementation can also alleviate the degree of mucositis and dermatitis. The impact of zinc on tumor growth and patient survival is under further investigation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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