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. Nine interventions showed some benefit. For patients with head and neck cancer undergoing radiotherapy oral mucositis may be prevented by aloe vera, honey and PTA (polymixin/tobramycin/amphotericin) antibiotic pastilles/paste. For patients with blood cancers undergoing chemotherapy or stem cell transplant, cryotherapy (ice chips) may be effective. Another five interventions were found to be effective in groups of patients with a range of different types of cancer, undergoing a range of different treatments; these were allopurinol, amifostine, intravenous glutamine, keratinocyte growth factor and laser treatment.
This review is published as a Cochrane Review in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 1. Cochrane Reviews are regularly updated as new evidence emerges and in response to comments and criticisms, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews should be consulted for the most recent version of the Review.