The mucous membrane is the soft tissue layer lining the digestive system and when there is inflammation on this lining it causes mucositis. It is a condition of painful inflammation causing ulcer like growth on the digestive tract lining. Very often, this condition is caused as a side effect for people who undergo chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer.

Mucositis can occur in the mouth (oral mucositis), stomach (gastrointestinal mucositis) and anus. This condition is quite expected for patients who undergo hematopoietic stem cell transplantation therapy for cancer.

Causes :

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy given for treating cancer emit powerful rays to destroy the cancer causing cells. Meanwhile, they destroy the healthy cells of the DNA molecules present in the mucous membrane causing inflammation on the tract. It happens as a chain reaction. Initially the damaged cells give out some toxic molecules which in turn cause further damage to the neighboring cells. This continues and rapidly spreads to the entire lining of the mouth or abdomen. Very often, cancer patients will develop mucositis as a side effect of chemotherapy. However, if the cancerous cells are on the breast (breast cancer) there is no chance for chemotherapy to cause mucositis since the pathway is far out of reach from the mouth or stomach.

Just like chemotherapy, biological therapy would also damage the lining of mucus membrane causing mucositits.

Types :

Basically two types of mucositis are available. One is oral mucositis affecting the lining of mouth and esophagus and the other is gastrointestinal mucositis affecting the soft tissues of the digestive system.

Symptoms :

Oral Mucositis :

The soft mucosal lining of the area gets inflamed. It becomes red and looks like ulcerous growth. The ulcer may start developing during the second week beginning. The ulcerous growth may measure from 0.5 – 4cm in diameter and it may cause severe pain in the mouth or affected area. Ulcers develop on the tongue and even on the oral cavity. The intensity of pain will depend on the extent on which the inner lining tissue is damaged due to chemotherapy.

Many people will get burning sensation on the mouth with reddish sores. Difficulty in eating and talking are other signs of mucositis. In some cases, there may be bloody discharge with pain from the affected area.

In addition, there may be dysgeusia, a condition of irregularity in perceiving taste is common for patients who undergo radiation therapy in mouth and neck.

Gastrointestinal Mucositis :

Patients with abdominal cancer or pelvic cancer are affected with GI mucositis and the symptoms are diarrhea, swelling and pain in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, bloating sensation, bloody discharge in stool, difficulty in swallowing and sickness.

Who are at risk?

Young people are at risk of getting oral mucositis. The person who has dry mouth when taking treatment for cancer will have more risk for getting mucositis than others. Similarly one who receives high dosage of drugs for chemotherapy and those who undergo stem cell transplant will get ulcerous inflammation rapidly.

Pictures of Mucositis :

Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Mucositis

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Treatment :

Topical ointments are to be applied using a cotton swab inside the mouth or oral cavity. Some medicines are to be swallowed inside. You can also try painkiller medications like lidocaine and benzocaine for reducing the inflammation and pain. In case of bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe amphotericin or clotrimazole for treating the infection. Antacids and sucralfate are given for treating sores and healing ulcers.

You need to maintain good oral hygiene for preventing oral mucositis by brushing your teeth twice regularly. Avoid smoking and using tobacco in any form.

Palifermin is given for treating patients who undergo stem cell transplant and subsequently have developed oral mucositis. Low level laser therapy is also given for managing oral mucositis.

In case of GI mucositis, you should take plenty of fluids to keep well hydrated and to control diarrhea. Further you need to change your diet routine for adjusting to low residue diet. Loperamide is given to control diarrhea

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