, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 492-498
Date: 07 Apr 2006

Developing evidence-based guidelines for management of alimentary mucositis: process and pitfalls

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It is important yet difficult to maintain currency in clinical oncology practice. The emergence of new diagnostic technologies and new paradigms for cancer treatment combine to produce a rapidly changing clinical approach to patients aided by the increasing use of multidisciplinary care teams and development of evidence-based protocols.


Teams of experts review the literature in a given area and produce management guidelines and protocols for use by practicing clinicians. Traditionally within Hematology/Oncology, these guidelines have been directed to management of a given tumor type. However, in recent years, attention has increasingly turned to supportive oncology; for example, there are now management guidelines for conditions such as neutropenic fever [Hughes et al. Clinical Infectious Diseases 34(6):730–751, 2002], antiemetic (The Antiemetic Subcommittee of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer Annals of Oncology 17:20–28, 2006) and most recently, mucositis [Rubenstein et al. Cancer 100(9 Suppl):2026–2046, 2004]. It is critical that any guideline process should include education, evaluation, and timely update in its remit, because guidelines become highly compromised if their existence is not widely known, if they do not facilitate clinical practice, or if they are not reflective of contemporary medical literature.


The Mucositis Study Group (MSG) of the Multinational Association for Supportive Care in Cancer/International Society for Oral Oncology was created in 1998 to specifically address the multiprofessional approach to clinical care, research, and education associated with mucosal injury in cancer patients. A specific outcome has been the development of evidence-based guidelines for the management of mucositis [Rubenstein et al. Cancer 100(9 Suppl):2026–2046, 2004; The Mucositis Study Group of MASCC/ISSO 2005]. The original guidelines [Rubenstein et al. Cancer 100(9 Suppl):2026–2046, 2004] and a companion paper discussing the science behind mucositis [Sonis et al. Cancer 100(9):1995–2025, 2004], were published in 2004. The MSG has recently updated the guidelines [The Mucositis Study Group of MASCC/ISSO 2005].


This paper discusses the process involved and the lessons learned that might help other groups planning to undertake a similar project.