According to an article recently published in Bone Marrow Transplantation, sucking on ice chips may help to prevent oral mucositis associated with high doses of the chemotherapy agent Alkeran® (melphalan).
Oral mucositis (OM) is a common side effect among patients undergoing high-dose cancer therapy and stem cell transplantation. In OM therapy causes damage to the lining of the mouth and digestive system, which can range from irritation to severe pain and ulceration. If OM becomes severe, it can cause so much pain that patients are not able to swallow and need a feeding tube or a tube placed in a vein (total parenteral nutrition or TPN) for nutrition and hydration. Furthermore, OM can lead to a full-body infection and/or a delay in treatment, which may ultimately result in suboptimal outcomes.
Researchers continue to evaluate the optimal ways to manage or, ideally, prevent OM in patients treated with high doses of therapy.
Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of ice chips to prevent or reduce OM in patients treated with high doses of Alkeran.
This trial included 40 patients with multiple myeloma. Twenty-one patients received ice chips (cryotherapy) 30 minutes prior to treatment and continued to use the ice chips for six hours. Nineteen patients received normal saline instead of ice chips.
- Severe OM occurred in 14% of patients treated with ice chips, compared with 74% of patients treated with saline.
- Individuals treated with ice chips received fewer narcotics and nutrition through a vein than those treated with saline.
The researchers concluded that cryotherapy significantly reduces the incidence of severe OM in patients receiving treatment with high doses of Alkeran. Future studies may compare cryotherapy to Kepivance™ or other agents used in the prevention or reduction of OM.
Reference: Lilleby K, Garcia P, Gooley T, et al. A prospective, randomized study of cryotherapy during administration of high-dose melphalan to decrease the severity and duration of oral mucositis in patients with multiple myeloma undergoing autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation. Bone Marrow Transplantation. 2006;1031-1035.