DOI: 10.1177/01455613241228211 ISSN: 0145-5613

The Trajectory of Oral Mucositis in Head and Neck Cancer Patients Undergoing Radiotherapy and its Influencing Factors

Meizi Liu, Ran An, Zitong Wu, Leping Dai, Qiaomiao Zeng, Wenfeng Chen
  • Otorhinolaryngology


Oral mucositis (OM) is a common and severe side effect of radiotherapy in head and neck cancer (HNC). The study aimed to investigate the longitudinal changes in OM and its influencing factors in patients with HNC during radiotherapy.


This was a retrospective longitudinal observational study. From July 2022 to March 2023, patients with HNC undergoing radiation therapy were enrolled. OM, oral hygiene, oral infections, oral pain, feeding route, and laboratory indicators were measured at 7 times. The influencing factors of OM were analyzed using generalized estimation equations (GEEs).


A total of 160 patients were included in this study. The prevalence of severe OM at T0, T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, and T6 was 0, 0, 2.5%, 9.4%, 26.9%, 24.4%, and 26.9%, respectively. The prevalence of grade 1-2 OM at T0, T1, T2, T3, T4, T5, and T6 was 0, 16.3%, 53.1%, 65.1%, 61.9%, 70.7%, and 71.3%, respectively. Duration of diagnosis, clinical stage, N stage, M stage, surgery, diabetes, radiotherapy dose, oral hygiene, oral infection, oral pain, feeding route, and lymphocyte impacted OM significantly in the GEEs multivariate model.


OM occurs in almost all patients with HNC who undergo radiotherapy. Changes in the severity of OM are a dynamic process, with the severity increasing with the cumulative radiotherapy dose. Specialist oral evaluation and oral care are needed to alleviate the severity of OM in HNC patients.

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