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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2000 Feb 1;46(3):535-9.

Oral glutamine to alleviate radiation-induced oral mucositis: a pilot randomized trial.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Niao-Sung Hsiang, Kaohsiung Hsien, Taiwan.



To evaluate the influence of oral glutamine on radiation-induced oral mucositis in the radiotherapy of head and neck cancer.


From July 1997 through June 1998, 17 patients with head and neck cancer receiving primary or adjuvant irradiation were randomized to either glutamine suspension (16 g in 240 ml normal saline) (n = 8) or placebo (normal saline) (n = 9) arm. Patients were instructed to swish the test solutions (30 ml) four times per day. All patients received half-mouth irradiation at least. Patients were treated 1.8 Gy per fraction daily, 5 days a week. We evaluated the grading of oral mucositis daily fraction at each day of treatment until 45 Gy/25 fractions. World Health Organization (WHO) step analgesic medication and body weight change were compared between the two arms.


The duration of objective oral mucositis > or = Grade 1 (p = 0.0097), Grade 2 (p = 0.0232), and Grade 3 (p = 0.0168) was shorter in the glutamine arm. Mean maximum grade of objective oral mucositis was less severe in the glutamine arm (1.6 vs. 2.6) (p = 0.0058). Glutamine did not reduce the duration and severity of subjective oral mucositis except for duration > or = Grade 3 (p = 0.0386). In the analysis of mean maximum WHO step of analgesic medication, there was no statistical difference (p = 0.5374) between the two arms. Mean body weight change was also not significantly different (p = 0.8070).


Oral glutamine may significantly reduce the duration and severity of objective oral mucositis during radiotherapy. It may shorten the duration of > or = Grade 3 subjective mucositis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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