Systematic review of miscellaneous agents for the management of oral mucositis in cancer patients

Siri Beier Jensen*, Virginia Jarvis, Yehuda Zadik, Andrei Barasch, Anura Ariyawardana, Allan Hovan, Noam Yarom, Rajesh V. Lalla, Joanne Bowen, Sharon Elad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of this systematic review was to analyze the available literature and define clinical practice guidelines for the use of the following agents for the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis (OM): allopurinol, midline mucosa-sparing radiation blocks, payayor, pentoxifylline, timing of radiation therapy (RT) (morning versus late afternoon), pilocarpine, bethanechol, chewing gum, propantheline, and tetrachlorodecaoxide. Methods: A systematic review was conducted by the Mucositis Study Group of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer/International Society for Oral Oncology (MASCC/ISOO). The body of evidence for each intervention, in each cancer treatment setting, was assigned an evidence level. Based on the evidence level, one of the following three guideline determinations was possible: recommendation, suggestion, no guideline possible. Results: A total of 32 papers across 10 interventions were examined. New suggestions were developed against the use of systemic pilocarpine administered orally for prevention of OM during RT in head and neck cancer patients and in patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy, with or without total body irradiation, prior to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. A suggestion was also made against the use of systemic pentoxifylline administered orally for the prevention of OM in patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation. No guideline was possible for any other agent reviewed due to inadequate and/or conflicting evidence. Conclusions: None of the agents reviewed was determined to be effective for the prevention or treatment of OM. Two agents, pilocarpine and pentoxifylline, were determined to be ineffective, in the populations listed above. Additional well-designed research is needed on other interventions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3223-3232
Number of pages10
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Disclosure The Mucositis Guidelines Update was sponsored by Helsinn Healthcare S.A., Switzerland and BioAlliance Pharma, France. Per MASCC/ISOO policy, no industry representatives had any role in the development of the guidelines. Andrei Barasch has received funding from Amgen®, USA and BioAlliance Pharma, France.


  • Cancer therapy
  • Oral mucositis
  • Palliative
  • Prevention
  • Saliva
  • Supportive
  • Treatment


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