Chronic oral mucositis after radiotherapy to the head and neck: a new insight

Sharon Elad, Yehuda Zadik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Purpose: Oral mucositis is a major complication of anticancer therapy yet the literature focuses on immediate (acute) mucosal changes and hardly describes the chronic form. We aim to report the clinical manifestations of chronic mucositis. Methods: A retrospective chart review of oral mucositis referrals was performed. Inclusion/exclusion criteria defined the patients that were considered to have chronic mucositis. Results: Four female patients treated for tongue/lower lip squamous cell carcinoma were included. Extensive painful oral mucositis lesions developed in all patients during the course of radiotherapy, with ulcers remaining for 5–24 months after completion of therapy. We describe two presentations, namely the persistent form (long-lasting ulcers continuing from acute ulcers) and the recurrent form (new discrete ulcers appearing on atrophic mucosa following the completion of radiotherapy). Conclusions: The long-term oral complications of radiotherapy to the head and neck may include chronic atrophic, erythematous, and/or ulcerated lesions. A diagnosis of chronic oral mucositis should be considered when the lesions are observed at least 3 months after radiotherapy, and other possible etiologies have been excluded. The influence of age and comorbidities (primarily diabetes mellitus) on chronic mucositis, the significance to patient’s quality of life, and the management of chronic mucositis are important subjects for future research.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4825-4830
Number of pages6
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Chronic
  • Oral cancer
  • Oral medicine
  • Oral mucositis
  • Oral oncology
  • Radiation therapy
  • Radiotherapy


Dive into the research topics of 'Chronic oral mucositis after radiotherapy to the head and neck: a new insight'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this