A systematic review of interventions to mitigate radiotherapy-induced oral mucositis in head and neck cancer patients

Head and Neck Cancer
06/09/2020

Support Care Cancer. 2020 Sep 5. doi: 10.1007/s00520-020-05548-0. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Oral mucositis is a debilitating consequence of radiotherapy in patients with head and neck cancers. Radiation-induced oral mucositis (RIOM) can cause pain and weight loss, reduce quality of life and affect treatment outcomes.

METHODS: A systematic review was undertaken to identify and examine the efficacy of low-cost interventions to mitigate RIOM and to develop clinical guidelines based on the evidence.

RESULTS: The author identified three interventions: benzydamine hydrochloride mouth rinse (BHM), honey and oral glutamine (OG). The search identified twenty-four studies in total. Four studies examined BHM; all findings were favourable, although only one had moderate methodological quality, and the rest were low. The product was poorly tolerated by some participants in one study. Twelve studies examined honey. Eleven of these had favourable results; two studies had moderate methodological quality, and the rest were low. Eight studies examined OG. Six of these had favourable results; two studies had moderate methodological quality, and the rest were low.

CONCLUSION: The author cannot recommend BHM to mitigate RIOM due to the overall low quality of the studies and poor tolerance to the product. The author cannot recommend honey to mitigate RIOM due to weak evidence supporting the intervention. The author can recommend OG to mitigate RIOM. There is a need for high-quality studies with a consensus of the methodology to reduce heterogeneity and examination of the cost-effectiveness of the interventions.