MAY 10, 2019 03:01 PM PDT

This Mouth Rinse Soothes the Pain of Cancer Treatment

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Oral mucositis is a condition in which the lining that covers the mouth, the oral mucosa, becomes damaged. It is “probably the most common, debilitating complication of cancer treatments,” according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can result in mouth sores, pain and infection, as well as nutritional problems tied to the inability to eat. A new study out of Texas finds using an oral rinse containing the antiseptic methylene blue is effective in treating this oral condition.

Jaideep Mehta, M.D., MBA, a pain medicine fellow at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center who was involved in the research, said “oral mucositis occurs most often in patients undergoing head and neck radiation therapy, taking multiple types of chemotherapeutic agents, or undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplant.” He also noted the intensity of cancer treatment seems to lead to the most oral mucositis.

Mehta’s new research into the use of the mouth rinse focused on 47 patients who presented with “intractable” oral pain due to oral mucositis from cancer treatment between May 2016 and February 2018. The patients who participated used an oral rinse that was 0.5 percent methylene blue, swishing for several minutes three to six times every six hours.

Credit: collage, public domain image of mouth and image of oral rinse via Marco Verch on Flickr, CC 2.0

The research team used a numerical rating scale to assess the participants’ baseline pain levels, as well as the pain intensity after treatment and after three weeks of the study. The patients experienced a mean pain reduction from 7.8 to 2.5 immediately after using the rinse. A total of 43 out of 47 patients experienced consistent pain relief at week three, and the majority demonstrated the greatest pain reduction after using the rinse for two days. Neither the patients’ sex, age, baseline pain scores, nor type, stage or duration of cancer affected the success of this treatment. However, patients whose oral pain was linked to stem cell therapy had the lowest response to using the rinse -- their mean pain reduction was 30 percent or less.

“We think [methylene blue’s] analgesia may be from neurotoxicity at the nerve endings in the mucous lining, as well as inhibition of nitric oxide and cytokines at some of the raw and irritated sites,” Mehta said.

Another positive aspect of this therapy is that it may prove a powerful alternative to opioid use. Other current treatments for oral mucositis include maintaining oral hygiene and topical anesthetics, which Mehta described as “very transient in their benefits.” The minimal side effects of the methylene blue rinse included temporary mouth discoloration and a burning sensation while using the rinse.

Credit: Authority Dental, CC 2.0

Source: Clinical Oncology

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech and conservation.
You May Also Like
AUG 19, 2019
Cancer
AUG 19, 2019
Turmeric Slows Bone Cancer
Often found in South Asian meals, the spice turmeric comes from a ginger-like plant. Turmeric and its principal ingredient, curcumin, have many beneficial ...
AUG 19, 2019
Cancer
AUG 19, 2019
Organic Produce Lessens Breast Cancer Risk
Organic foods and their health benefits are a source of constant study and some debate. As the evidence of the health risks of various pesticides builds up...
AUG 19, 2019
Cancer
AUG 19, 2019
New Freezing Technique for Breast Cancer Patients in Low Income Countries
Treatment for breast cancer can be too expensive and hard to access for many women in lower-income countries. These women are disproportionately affected b...
AUG 19, 2019
Health & Medicine
AUG 19, 2019
Does Cuttlefish Ink Hold a Cure for Cancer?
Using nanoparticles to deliver cancer-fighting compounds directly into tumors has been a hot research topic for the past few years. According to Lisa Ayga...
AUG 19, 2019
Drug Discovery
AUG 19, 2019
Aspirin Usage Improves Liver Function After Embolization Treatment
Aspirin usage has been under scrutiny in recent research. But now, studies are bringing aspirin therapy in renewed light with its association in improving ...
AUG 19, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
AUG 19, 2019
New Device Improves Accuracy In Lung Cancer Diagnosis
Acute respiratory distress syndrome ARDS occurs when fluid builds up in the alveoli. These tiny elastics sacs, which are responsible for gaseous exchange i...
Loading Comments...