What is oral mucositis?
Painful oral lesions come in a variety of forms, from multiple small ulcers to more severe conditions such as oral mucositis. Oral mucositis is characterised by unpleasant, painful ulcers and inflammation in the mouth.

In some cases, oral mucositis can cause severe discomfort or pain and may even prevent swallowing of food and fluids.
Who is affected by oral mucositis? Show/Hide

Oral mucositis affects people who are receiving radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy for a wide variety of reasons. Oral mucositis occurs in:
  • 85-100% of patients receiving radiotherapy for head and neck cancer1
    • 25-45% had severe oral mucositis
  • 75-100% of patients receiving stem-cell transplantation (chemotherapy is used to prepare the patient's system beforehand)1
    • 25-60% had severe oral mucositis
  • 5-40% of patients receiving treatment for solid tumours with myelosuppressive chemotherapy1
However, the true incidence of oral mucositis may be even higher as oral mucositis that is not classed as 'severe', but which may have an impact on patients' comfort, is not consistently reported.2

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What problems can oral mucositis cause? Show/Hide

The oral side effects associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy can have a severe impact on patients' lives and can also affect their treatment. In patients who experience moderate to severe oral mucositis (grades 3−4):2
  • 1 in 3
    • will have their current chemotherapy stopped, with another treatment being sought, or
    • will need to have their next cycle of chemotherapy delayed
  • 2 in 3
    • will need to have their next dose reduced
    • will require hospitalisation
  • Nearly 3 in 4
    • will require a feeding tube to ensure adequate nutrition
As well as these problems, oral mucositis can lead to:
  • Increased risk of infection and fever6
  • Need for strong painkillers (e.g. opioids)6
  • Increased weight loss6
  • Restricted mouth care7
  • Impaired speech7
To watch videos of other people's experiences with oral mucositis, click here or click on the "Patient Case Studies" tab at the top of the page.

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What causes oral mucositis? Show/Hide

The lining of the mouth, or oral mucosa, is more sensitive than the rest of your skin. The symptoms of oral mucositis are caused by a breakdown of the oral mucosa and subsequent exposure of the nerve endings, related to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. What causes oral mucositis

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When do symptoms develop? Show/Hide

Chemotherapy: symptoms usually develop between days four and five, peaking after seven to ten days.8

Radiotherapy to the head and neck: symptoms will usually start one to two weeks after first dose of radiotherapy and usually continue for one to three weeks after therapy is completed.8



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How is oral mucositis managed? Show/Hide

Good oral hygiene is important in preventing and managing oral mucositis. Two key doctors' organisations, the Multinational Association of Supportive Care In Cancer (MASCC) and the International Society of Oral Oncology (ISOO), agree that patients should:9
  • Brush, floss, rinse and moisturise their mouths regularly and systematically
  • Use a soft toothbrush and replace it on a regular basis
  • Report oral pain to their healthcare provider
  • Be sure to attend any dental appointments arranged for before, during and after their cancer treatment
But what if the oral mucositis has already occurred?

Gelclair® is an oral gel that helps to relieve the pain associated with oral mucositis and other treatment-related oral lesions. Gelclair® does this by forming a bioprotective coating inside the mouth, offering rapid and effective pain management3−5 and can potentially improve a sufferer's ability to eat and drink.3,5

To find out more about how Gelclair® works and where to get it, click here or click on the "About Gelclair®" tab at the top of the page.

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How can you treat mouth ulcers from cancer treatment? Show/Hide

Some cancer treatments can cause painful mouth ulcers also known as mucositis. This is the swelling and irritation of the cells caused by a biological imbalance and can occur 5 to 10 days after treatment has commenced. Symptoms may include dryness or swelling of the mouth, burning or discomfort when eating and open sores in the mouth and throat. The mouth ulcers normally heal and disappear four weeks after treatment. They are not usually preventable but it is possible to manage the discomfort.

If you are experiencing pain please mention it to your doctor or nurse who may prescribe a mouth wash such as Gelclair which creates a bioprotective coating that adheres to the lining of the mouth, including ulcers. Gelclair effectively binds itself to sores and ulcers and forms a protective barrier over mouth ulcers to help prevent infection and also keeps the mouth hydrated. Gelclair forms an effective barrier over mouth ulcers to help prevent infection and also keeps the mouth hydrated.
What are the side effects of Radiotherapy? Show/Hide

Radiotherapy targets cancer by using radiation (usually x-rays) on the area that needs treatment. This damages the DNA in the cancer cells. Healthy cells in the area are also damaged but they are better at recovering.

Depending on where your treatment is needed, radiotherapy can affect your body in different ways. Your doctor will be able to let you know more about your specific treatment but here are a few common side effects and what you can do to make them easier to deal with. Read More...

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What are the side effects of Chemotherapy? Show/Hide

Chemotherapy drugs work by targeting cancer cells as they divide and reproduce. Cancer cells are vulnerable because they divide more quickly than others but some healthy cells also reproduce at a fast rate.

Hair, nails, skin cells, blood cells, the lining of your mouth and digestive system are continually renewing. During chemo, these healthy cells can also be damaged, although they usually can recover after treatment ends.

Different chemotherapy cancer drugs can affect your body in different ways. The best way to find out about your specific treatment is to talk to your doctor but here are a few common side effects and what you can do to make them easier to deal with. Read More...

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<< Download 'Your Guide to Oral Mucositis' >>
This animation shows how Gelclair can help to relieve the pain of oral lesions and ulcers caused by oral mucositis.
Apply for a free sample of Gelclair, which helps to relieve the pain oforal mucositis, a painful inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the mouth and throat.
Tell friends about Gelclair which helps to relieve the pain of oral lesions and ulcers from oral mucositis.
Healthcare Professionals click here for more information on Gelclair and oral mucositis
Healthcare Professionals click here for more information on Gelclair and oral mucositis
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