Intervention Review

Interventions for preventing oral mucositis for patients with cancer receiving treatment

  1. Helen V Worthington1,*,
  2. Jan E Clarkson2,
  3. Gemma Bryan1,
  4. Susan Furness1,
  5. Anne-Marie Glenny1,
  6. Anne Littlewood1,
  7. Martin G McCabe3,
  8. Stefan Meyer4,
  9. Tasneem Khalid5

Editorial Group: Cochrane Oral Health Group

Published Online: 13 APR 2011

Assessed as up-to-date: 8 MAR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000978.pub5

How to Cite

Worthington HV, Clarkson JE, Bryan G, Furness S, Glenny AM, Littlewood A, McCabe MG, Meyer S, Khalid T. Interventions for preventing oral mucositis for patients with cancer receiving treatment. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD000978. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000978.pub5.

Author Information

  1. 1

    School of Dentistry, The University of Manchester, Cochrane Oral Health Group, Manchester, UK

  2. 2

    Cochrane Oral Health Group, The University of Manchester, Dental Health Services & Research Unit, University of Dundee, Dundee, Manchester, UK

  3. 3

    University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, School of Cancer and Enabling Sciences, Manchester, UK

  4. 4

    The University of Manchester, Paediatric and Adolescent Oncology, Royal Manchester Children's and Christie Hospital, School of Cancer and Enabling Sciences, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, UK

  5. 5

    Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Department of Haematology/Oncology, Manchester, UK

*Helen V Worthington, Cochrane Oral Health Group, School of Dentistry, The University of Manchester, Coupland III Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK. helen.worthington@manchester.ac.uk.

Publication History

  1. Publication Status: Edited (no change to conclusions)
  2. Published Online: 13 APR 2011

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Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Plain language summary

Background

Treatment of cancer is increasingly more effective but is associated with short and long term side effects. Oral side effects remain a major source of illness despite the use of a variety of agents to prevent them. One of these side effects is oral mucositis (mouth ulcers).

Objectives

To evaluate the effectiveness of prophylactic agents for oral mucositis in patients with cancer receiving treatment, compared with other potentially active interventions, placebo or no treatment.

Search methods

Electronic searches of Cochrane Oral Health Group and PaPaS Trials Registers (to 16 February 2011), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 1), MEDLINE via OVID (1950 to 16 February 2011), EMBASE via OVID (1980 to 16 February 2011), CINAHL via EBSCO (1980 to 16 February 2011), CANCERLIT via PubMed (1950 to 16 February 2011), OpenSIGLE (1980 to 2005) and LILACS via the Virtual Health Library (1980 to 16 February 2011) were undertaken. Reference lists from relevant articles were searched and the authors of eligible trials were contacted to identify trials and obtain additional information.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials of interventions to prevent oral mucositis in patients receiving treatment for cancer.

Data collection and analysis

Information regarding methods, participants, interventions, outcome measures, results and risk of bias were independently extracted, in duplicate, by two review authors. Authors were contacted for further details where these were unclear. The Cochrane Collaboration statistical guidelines were followed and risk ratios calculated using random-effects models.

Main results

A total of 131 studies with 10,514 randomised participants are now included. Overall only 8% of these studies were assessed as being at low risk of bias. Ten interventions, where there was more than one trial in the meta-analysis, showed some statistically significant evidence of a benefit (albeit sometimes weak) for either preventing or reducing the severity of mucositis, compared to either a placebo or no treatment. These ten interventions were: aloe vera, amifostine, cryotherapy, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), intravenous glutamine, honey, keratinocyte growth factor, laser, polymixin/tobramycin/amphotericin (PTA) antibiotic pastille/paste and sucralfate.

Authors' conclusions

Ten interventions were found to have some benefit with regard to preventing or reducing the severity of mucositis associated with cancer treatment. The strength of the evidence was variable and implications for practice include consideration that benefits may be specific for certain cancer types and treatment. There is a need for further well designed, and conducted trials with sufficient numbers of participants to perform subgroup analyses by type of disease and chemotherapeutic agent.

 

Plain language summary

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. Plain language summary

Interventions for preventing oral mucositis for patients with cancer receiving treatment

Treatment for cancer (including bone marrow transplant) can cause oral mucositis (severe ulcers in the mouth). This painful condition can cause difficulties in eating, drinking and swallowing, and may also be associated with infections which may require the patient to stay longer in hospital. Different strategies are used to try and prevent this condition, and the review of trials found that some of these are effective. Two interventions, cryotherapy (ice chips) and keratinocyte growth factor (palifermin®) showed some benefit in preventing mucositis. Sucralfate is effective in reducing the severity of mucositis, and a further seven interventions, aloe vera, amifostine, intravenous glutamine, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), honey, laser and antibiotic lozenges containing polymixin/tobramycin/amphotericin (PTA) showed weaker evidence of benefit. These were evaluated in patients with different types of cancer, undergoing different types of cancer treatment. Benefits may be restricted to the disease and treatment combinations evaluated.