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Core Evid. 2010 Jun 15;4:199-205.

Efficacy of palifermin (keratinocyte growth factor-1) in the amelioration of oral mucositis.

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  • 1Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA.



Oral mucositis is a significant toxicity of cytotoxic chemo- and radiation-therapy used to treat cancer. Palifermin is the first pharmaceutical/biological agent approved for the intervention of oral mucositis. The major objective of this review is to evaluate the evidence supporting the use of palifermin.


A literature search was performed using an appropriate keyword search in MEDLINE and PubMed databases.


Of 100 full papers and 4 abstracts identified, 12 papers and 3 abstracts were appropriate for analysis. Level 2 evidence supporting palifermin use in patients with hematologic malignancies being treated with autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is clear. Level 2 evidence also exists for the use of palifermin in the prevention of oral mucositis in patients with solid tumors (colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer), but is incomplete. Level >/= 3 data support the use of palifermin in allogeneic HSCT recipients and cycled chemotherapy. A single health economic study concluded that palifermin is essentially cost neutral in the autologous HSCT population.


Data supporting the use of palifermin in autologous HSCT recipients with hematologic malignancies is clear. Some data exist demonstrating its efficacy in other oncologic indications. Additional studies are needed to broaden the potential applications of palifermin and to ascertain its economic, but not symptomatic, effectiveness.


oral mucositis; palifermin; toxicity

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