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Severe mucositis: how can nutrition help?

Keefe, Dorothy Ma,b; Rassias, Georginaa; O'Neil, Lisaa; Gibson, Rachel Ja,b

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: September 2007 - Volume 10 - Issue 5 - p 627–631
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e3282bf90d6
Nutrition and the gastrointestinal tract

Purpose of review To review the recent evidence on the effect of nutrition on the incidence and severity of mucositis following anticancer treatment.

Recent findings There have been many recent publications on mucositis and on nutrition in cancer, but very few on nutrition and mucositis in cancer. It is difficult to establish a definite link between nutritional status, nutritional interventions and mucositis. Malnutrition is probably a risk factor for mucositis, however, and some of the interventions that improve nutrition in cancer patients and reduce the risk of cancer in the general population work via mechanisms that might positively affect the development and course of mucositis. Whilst it can be tempting to extrapolate these findings to suggest that nutritional support can reduce the incidence and severity of mucositis, this would be premature.

Summary There may well be a link between nutritional status, nutritional supplementation, anticancer treatment and mucositis, but it is not yet proven; and mechanism-based, prospective, randomized studies are required to answer the question. This is likely to be an area of increased study in the future.

aRoyal Adelaide Hospital Cancer Centre, Royal Adelaide Hospital, South Australia

bDiscipline of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia

Correspondence to Dr Dorothy Keefe, RAH Cancer Centre, Royal Adelaide Hospital, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia Tel: +618 8222 5577; fax: +618 8222 4358; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.