EpicentRx Word of the Week: Oral Mucositis

Aug 21, 2023

“Word is Bond. James Bond”


For more information see the accompanying infographic on severe oral mucositis


Noun: Mucositis or stomatitis refers to painful inflammation of the mucosa, the membrane rich in mucus glands that lines the mouth and the gastrointestinal tract.

Example sentences:

Mucositis occurs when cancer treatments break down the mucosa which covers the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus causing redness (erythema), swelling (edema), and sores (ulcerations).”

“Nibrozetone (RRx-001) received FDA Fast Track designation for the treatment of oral mucositis, a very painful inflammation of the oral mucosa following chemotherapy and radiation therapy.”

“Subjective and objective symptoms of oral mucositis include pain and inability to eat solid food and erythema and ulceration, respectively”.


Oral mucositis is the most common complication of radiation therapy to the head and neck, chemotherapy for solid tumors or lymphoma, and high-dose chemotherapy prior to bone marrow transplantation. Chemotherapy agents like 5-fluorouracil, methotrexate, and cytarabine that affect DNA synthesis are associated with oral mucositis. Anthracyclines, mTOR inhibitors, alkylating agents like cisplatin, and antimetabolites are also associated with oral mucositis.

The innermost or basal layer of the oral mucosa turns over rapidly, which makes the oral mucosa particularly susceptible to radiation injury. Nearly 20% of head and neck cancer patients treated with chemoradiation experience severe or high-grade mucositis, which requires hospitalization along with a delay or discontinuation of cancer therapy, and potentially tube feedings because of an inability to eat or drink. Oral mucositis is associated with opportunistic bacterial, and fungal infections. The pain from oral mucositis disrupts quality of life, worsens prognosis, and adds to the cost of treatment for patients.

About the Word:

Mucositis combines the word, mucosa, or mucus membrane, with the suffix -itis, meaning inflammation. So, mucositis is inflammation of the mucosa. Oral mucositis is inflammation of the mucosa that lines the mouth and throat.