The role of salivary function in modulating chemotherapy-induced oropharyngeal mucositis: a review of the literature.Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 2002; 94(1):39-44OS
Oropharyngeal mucositis is a common and significant complication of cancer chemotherapy and limits the delivery of chemotherapy, affects the quality of life, and increases the cost of care. Oral mucositis caused by cancer chemotherapy is associated with specific agents, but the origin of oral mucositis is poorly understood. These drugs may have direct toxic effects on the rapidly dividing cells of the oral mucosa and on cellular elements of the connective tissue. Microbial flora may play a role in the development of ulcerative mucositis. Chemotherapy may be directly toxic and affect the mucosa by systemic circulation and may be related to secretion of some chemotherapeutic drugs in the saliva, resulting in topical exposure to the oral environment. Other potential mechanisms include reduced saliva volume and change in saliva constituents that may affect epithelial maintenance and repair, the physiology of the oral microflora, and the interaction between the oral flora and the epithelium. Improved understanding of the mechanisms whereby specific chemotherapeutic agents cause mucositis may lead to management approaches that will reduce the incidence and severity of mucositis, improving quality of life and ensuring delivery of the necessary chemotherapy to improve cancer cure rates.