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J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Oct;17(4):340-50. doi: 10.5863/1551-6776-17.4.340.

Prevention and treatment of oral mucositis in children with cancer.

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Department of Clinical and Administrative Sciences, University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Oral mucositis affects more than three-fourths of patients undergoing chemotherapy and represents a significant burden to patients and caregivers. Lesions develop as a result of chemotherapeutic agents attacking the rapidly dividing cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Severity can range from mild, painless tissue changes to bleeding ulcerations that prevent oral intake and require narcotic pain relievers. Oral mucositis also leads to an increased risk of infection and can often delay further chemotherapy treatment. A number of assessment scales have been developed to better qualify the symptoms associated with this condition. Few pharmacologic agents have been approved to either prevent the development or alleviate the symptoms of oral mucositis. Current options include the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes, amino acid rinses, and topical healing agents. Palifermin, a keratinocyte growth factor, may be a future option after its use in children is explored. With achievements in other areas of supportive care in patients undergoing chemotherapy, oral mucositis should represent the forefront of new research. This review will provide a comprehensive examination of available options for children who have oral mucositis.


cancer; child; mucositis; stomatitis

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