Emerging approaches for prophylaxis and management of oropharyngeal mucositis in cancer therapy.Expert Opin Emerg Drugs 2006; 11(2):353-73EO
Oral mucositis is a common treatment-limiting side effect of cancer therapy that may have a significant impact on quality of life and on the cost of care. Oral mucositis is the most distressing complication of cancer therapy as reported by head and neck cancer patients, in patients receiving dose-dense myelosuppressive chemotherapy and in patients receiving haematopoietic stem cell transplant. Mucositis may increase the risk of local and systemic infection, particularly in myelosuppressed patients. Severe oral mucositis can lead to the need to interrupt or discontinue cancer therapy, and thus may impact cure of the primary disease. Current care of patients with mucositis is essentially palliative, and includes appropriate oral hygiene, nonirritating diet and oral care products, topical palliative mouth rinses, topical anaesthetics and use of systemic opioid analgesics. Emerging approaches for prevention and treatment of oral mucositis are developing based on an increasing understanding of the pathobiology of mucosal damage and repair. New interventions are expected to be administered based on the mechanisms of initiation, progression and resolution of the condition. The approval by the FDA of keratinocyte growth factor (palifermin; Amgen) in 2004 represents a new step in prevention of oral mucositis in stem cell transplant patients based on the increasing understanding of the pathogenesis of mucositis. Progress in the prevention and management of mucositis will improve quality of life, reduce cost of care and facilitate completion of more intensive cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy protocols. Improved management of mucositis may allow implementation of cancer treatment protocols that are currently excessively mucotoxic, but have potentially higher cure rates of the malignant disease.