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Mouth problems

Some blood cancer treatments can cause side effects like soreness and ulcers in the mouth, making it hard to eat and consume enough calories. But there are ways to help you to manage this discomfort.

Chemotherapy, targeted therapies and radiotherapy are designed to destroy rapidly growing cancer cells. However these treatments can also cause damage to healthy, rapidly growing cells such as the lining of the mouth and stomach. This may result in soreness and ulceration of the lining of the mouth or throat, resulting in a condition called mucositis, which can be very painful. Although damage to the cells lining the mouth or throat is usually temporary, it can still be uncomfortable and cause eating problems.

Some tips on keeping your mouth healthy during your treatment include:

Make sure you tell your doctor or medical team if you have a sore mouth. They may be able to prescribe soothing or antiseptic lotions or sprays for you. You may also be given painkillers before mealtimes to help you with swallowing.

The use of mouthwash can be soothing, but be careful with over-the-counter types as they can be too strong. Salt-water mouthwashes may help to reduce soreness, or your doctor can prescribe an anaesthetic gel or mouthwash instead.

Visit your dentist and see what options they can offer during treatment to help alleviate any discomfort.  


Published: Feb 2016

Next planned review: Feb 2018