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Oral rinse ‘may limit head and neck cancers’

A new study has indicated that an oral rinse could help to reduce the painful side-effects of head and neck cancers in patients.

Access Pharmaceuticals launched the multi-centre, randomised, blinded clinical trial among patients with head and neck cancers to evaluate the effect of a mucoadhesive hydrogel oral wound rinse against a control rinse.

It follows growing understanding of the biological pathways at work in the development of oral mucositis in patients treated with cytotoxic cancer therapies, which in turn helped spur interest in steering symptom management away from ‘institutional folklore’ rinses and anecdotal approaches toward evidence-based strategies.

The study found that patients who rinsed with the mucoadhesive hydrogel oral on the first through to the last day of their radiation therapy reported less mouth and throat soreness, a delayed onset of significant soreness, and also lower usage of opioids than those who used a control standard of care rinse.

Dr Stephen Sonis, who designed the study, said the patients who used the new rinse had “statistically less discomfort” compared with patients who received a placebo.

Overall, around eight per cent of all newly diagnosed patients with cancer are at a high risk of developing ulcerative mucositis, with between 20 per cent and 49 per cent of patients facing an intermediate risk of the toxicity during the course of their treatment.

The incidence of oral mucositis approaches 80 per cent of patients with head and neck cancers and about 40 per cent of individuals who have undergone hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), and also is prevalent in patients with breast, colorectal, and lung cancers, explained Dr Sonis.

He added: “If you ask patients who’ve had ablative chemotherapy or patients who’ve had radiation to the head and neck to rank side effects of their treatment, mucositis is consistently at the top of the list. It causes enormous amounts of pain.”

According to the expert, mucoadhesive hydrogel oral wound rinse can help to limit pain in these individuals and improve their quality of life, compared to current alternatives.

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