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Cancer. 2003 Oct 1;98(7):1531-9.

The burdens of cancer therapy. Clinical and economic outcomes of chemotherapy-induced mucositis.

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Section of Health Services Research, Department of Biostatistics, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston Texas 77030-4009, USA.



Mucositis is a common but poorly studied problem among patients with solid tumors. The authors examined the clinical and economic outcomes of oral and gastrointestinal (GI) mucositis among patients receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy.


A retrospective, random sample of 599 patients who developed chemotherapy-induced myelosuppression was followed for development of oral or GI mucositis and for development of subsequent episodes of bleeding or infection. Multilevel regression models of the risk of bleeding and infection were fit with chemotherapy cycles nested within patients.


Mucositis developed during 37% of 1236 cycles of chemotherapy. Episodes of bleeding were significantly more common during cycles with GI mucositis than during cycles without GI mucositis (13% vs. 8%; P = 0.04). Episodes of infection were significantly more common during cycles with mucositis (especially GI mucositis) than during cycles without mucositis (73% vs. 36%; P < 0.0001). The mean durations of hospitalization were 4 days, 6 days, and 12 days during cycles with no mucositis, oral mucositis, and GI mucositis, respectively. After accounting for the depth and duration of myelosuppression and for other predictive factors, GI mucositis was associated with both bleeding (odds ratio [OR], 2.0; P = 0.01) and infection (OR, 2.24; P < 0.0001), whereas oral mucositis was associated with infection only (OR, 2.4; P < 0.0001).


Mucositis was clinically and economically significant among patients with solid tumors who were receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy. New preventive and therapeutic agents are needed.

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