, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 639-646
Date: 06 Aug 2009

Prospective evaluation of oral mucositis in acute leukemia patients receiving chemotherapy

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Knowledge of oral mucositis (OM) in patients with acute leukemia (AL) and chemotherapy (CT) has remained limited. Thus, a prospective, longitudinal study was undertaken to characterize clinical features, associated risk factors, and behavior of OM in a cohort of AL patients starting CT.


Prospective and longitudinal study. A cohort of patients, older than 15 years of age with AL, scheduled to receive CT, was followed from March 2006 to October 2007. At baseline and three times per week, for 21 days, patients had an oral examination performed using the Oral Mucositis Assessment Scale (OMAS); also, oral pain and difficulty to swallow were recorded using a visual analog scale. Weekly, salivary flow measurements (Schirmer’s test modified version) were done.


A cohort of 29 AL patients was followed for a median time of 21 (range, 14–53) days; 12 (41.4%) developed OM, with a mean OMAS score of 0.181 (SD ± 0.56) and a mean peak OMAS score of 1.8 (SD ± 0.56). The OM onset mean time was 9.8 (range, 2–20, SD ± 6.09) days, with a mean duration of 7 (range, 3–14, SD ± 4.15) days. OM was significantly correlated with salivary flow [rs = 0.420 (P = 0.0051)], oral pain [rs = 0.47 (P < 0.0001)], ability to swallow [rs = 0.36 (P = 0.0001)], and type of food intake [rs = 0.38 (P < 0.0001)].


OM is a frequent and early side effect of CT closely correlated with oral pain, difficulty to swallow, and impairment in food intake.