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Anticancer Drugs. 2011 Aug;22(7):607-12. doi: 10.1097/CAD.0b013e3283462086.

Oral mucositis.

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  • 1Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Oral mucositis remains one of the most common and troubling side effects of standard chemoradiation regimens used for the treatment of head and neck cancer. Virtually all patients who receive cumulative radiation doses of more than 30 Gy that includes oral mucosal fields will develop the condition. Not only does mucositis cause extreme discomfort, often necessitating opioid analgesia, but it is also associated with increased use of health resources and cost of treatment. The incremental cost of mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer is more than $17 000 (US). Much has been learned about the pathobiology that underlies the condition. The departure from the historical paradigm of direct cell death as being the primary cause for mucosal injury in favor of a more comprehensive view of the impact of chemoradiation on all the cells of the mucosa, has resulted in a picture of mucositis pathogenesis, which is biologically broad based. Although there are currently few treatment options for oral mucositis at the moment, the recognition that its underlying biology is complex has provided a range of treatment options that are currently being developed.

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