Cancer Treatment - Sore Mouth, Gums or Throat
Good oral care is important during cancer treatment. Some anticancer drugs can cause sores in the mouth and throat, a condition called stomatitis or mucositis. Anticancer drugs also can make these tissues dry and irritated or cause them to bleed. Patients who have not been eating well since beginning chemotherapy are more likely to get mouth sores.
Mouth sores, tender gums, and a sore throat or esophagus often result from radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or infection. If you are under treatment for cancer and have a sore mouth or gums, see your doctor to be sure the soreness is a treatment side effect and not an unrelated dental problem. The doctor may be able to give you medicine that will control mouth and throat pain. Your dentist also can give you tips for the care of your mouth.
In addition to being painful, mouth sores can become infected by the many germs that live in the mouth. Every step should be taken to prevent infections, because they can be hard to fight during chemotherapy and can lead to serious problems.
How can I keep my mouth, gums, and throat healthy?
If you develop sores in your mouth, tell your doctor or nurse. You may need medicine to treat the sores. If the sores are painful or keep you from eating, you can try these ideas:
How can I cope with mouth sores?
How can I cope with mouth dryness?
Certain foods will irritate an already tender mouth and make chewing and swallowing difficult. By carefully choosing the foods you eat and by taking good care of your mouth, teeth, and gums, you can usually make eating easier. Here are some suggestions that may help:
For more information about cancer therapy side effects, and coping with them, please read the "Chemotherapy and Cancer Treatment, Coping with Side Effects" article.
SOURCE: National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov)
Last Editorial Review: 11/8/2002
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