SIDE EFFECTS OF CHEMOTHERAPY AND RADIATION THERAPY
- ORAL MUCOSITIS


Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are most commonly used in cancer treatment. Chemotherapeutics destroy malignant cells inhibiting their growth and division. As these drugs do not act selectively on cancer cells only, they can damage healthy cells in the body as well. Some cells of our bodies are especially vulnerable to effects of such drugs. Most vulnerable are those cells that divide rapidly as gastrointestinal mucosa, hair follicles, blood cells and gametes. Side effects of chemotherapy are actually result of damage of these healthy cells. Very common side effects of chemotherapy is damage to the lining of the mouth called oral mucositis.

Radiotherapy is a treatment method that uses beams of ionizing radiation to destroy malignant cells. Radiation therapy can be directed to a specific location in the body where cancer cells are present, but also a certain part of healthy cells will be affected during radiation. In head and neck cancers in more than 90% of patients oral mucositis occurs as a result of ionizing radiation on healthy cells lining of oral cavity.

Oral mucositis is a common side effect of cancer treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It occurs in 40% of patients receiving chemotherapy and / or radiation therapy and in more than 90% of head or neck cancer patients. Oral mucositis is an inflammation of the lining of the mouth. It starts as the initial pain and redness of the mucous membrane, and progresses causing sores in the mouth and severe pain. Sores in the mouth become so restrictive for the patient that he can’t eat or drink or even talk. In these cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy have to be postponed what essentially undermines the effectiveness of treatment and positive treatment outcome. Patients with damaged oral mucosa are prone to infections of the oral cavity as their immune system is already compromised by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Oral mucositis significantly affects the condition of the gums and teeth, patient's speech, normal food and drink intake and patient's confidence, hence the compliance of the patient in the treatment of malignant disease and further receiving aggressive therapy is compromised. It is therefore extremely important to prevent oral mucositis, whenever possible, and if it is already present start the treatement immediately.

 

 
               
 
 
  © 2012 Eurotron International d.o.o. All rights reserved.