Chemotherapy, Radiation-induced Mucositis Prevention

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“Mucositis (MU) is the painful inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract, usually as an adverse effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for cancer.[1]

Oral mucositis frequently occurs in patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for several different types of cancer. The studies below talk about MU in head and neck cancer patients undergoing radiation. My experience is from patients who endured this painful side effect during an autologous stem cell transplant for my cancer, multiple myeloma.

Ulcerative oral mucositis lesion on the lateral an

My point is that MU can happen almost anytime a cancer patient undergoes radiation to the mouth and throat and a cancer patient can endure this painful side effect simply by undergoing a lot of chemotherapy.

If a person gets MU severely enough they can’t drink, they can’t swallow and they certainly can’t eat. Please believe me that if you have been diagnosed with head and neck cancer you want to work to prevent this difficult side effects.

I will cite prevention therapies both anecdotally and based on research. By anecdotally  I mean that I have read of many patients who have prevented MU by chewing on ice chips daily. To add to the study below citing topical vitamin E therapy as a preventative therapy, I have read of cancer patient who gargled with vitamin E. solution frequently during their autologous stem cell transplant. Yes, this therapy prevented mucositis.

I supplement with a brand and formula of vitamin E called Life Extension Gamma Vitamin E Mixed Tocopherols and Tocotrienols because this formula gives me all 8 forms of mixed Vitamin E.

Have you been diagnosed with head and neck cancer? What stage? What therapies are you considering? If you would like to learn more about both conventional and evidence-based non-conventional therapies please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.


David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

What is mucositis?

Mucosity  is the painful inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract, usually as an adverse effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for cancer.[1] Mucositis can occur anywhere along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but oral mucositis refers to the particular inflammation and ulceration that occurs in the mouth. Oral mucositis is a common and often debilitating complication of cancer treatment.”

Infrared Imaging Eyes Mucositis After Head and Neck Radiation

“Thermal imaging was able to detect small and early changes in the temperature of mucosal surfaces – a possible predictor of the development of mucositis – among 34 patients who were treated with chemoradiotherapy for locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

“Detection of these early changes using sensitive thermal imaging technology would allow identification of patients who will require more intensive supportive care,” said Dr. Ezra Cohen, who presented the pilot study at the head and neck cancer symposium sponsored by the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

Radiotherapy-associated MU manifests initially as erythematous areas in the treatment field, which are accompanied by an intense inflammatory response histologically. Thus, Dr. Cohen and his associates had hypothesized that patients destined to display severe mucocutaneous toxicity would demonstrate greater alterations in thermal intensity early in therapy, compared with identically treated counterparts who do not subsequently develop the toxicity.”

Role of Vitamin E and Vitamin A in Oral Mucositis Induced by Cancer Chemo/Radiotherapy- A Meta-analysis

“Conclusion-Topical Vitamin E had performed better on oral MU than Vitamin E systemic administration. Though the efficacy of topical treatment with Vitamin A showed reduction in oral mucositis, it was evaluated in a very small sample which cannot be attributed to a larger sitting.

Dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acid attenuates 5-fluorouracil induced mucositis in mice

“Conclusion-Together, these results show that omega-3 fatty acid decreases the mucosal damage caused by 5-FU-induced MU…”

Adjunctive Treatments for the Prevention of Chemotherapy- and Radiotherapy-Induced Mucositis

Conclusion: There is plausible clinical evidence for the administration of several adjunctive treatments for the prevention and treatment of MU.

  • Probiotics were reported to reduce the burden of intestinal mucositis and treatment-induced diarrhea-
  • Activated charcoal and glutamine are beneficial for chemotherapy-induced diarrhea-
  • whereas the administration of honey, zinc, and glutamine reduce the risk of developing oral mucositis during chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

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