Mouth Sores During Cancer Treatment
Cancer treatments such as radiation therapy to
the head or neck, some chemotherapy agents and biological therapy can cause
mouth sores. These small ulcerations and sensitive areas on the lips, tongue or
gums can be painful and often lead to poor intake of food and beverages,
resulting in weight loss.
Suggestions to improve nutritional intake
while experiencing mouth sores:
Choose creamy-soft textures.
avocado, baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes made with non-fat powdered dry
milk, Greek yogurt, baby foods such as pears or prunes, cottage cheese, cream
soups, macaroni and cheese and spinach soufflé.
Cook food until soft and tender.
Avoid citrus fruit and juices, spicy foods, tomato products,
salty foods, raw vegetables, sharp or crunchy foods and alcoholic beverages.
Drink beverages with a straw, which can help push the drinks
beyond the painful areas of your mouth.
Eat cold or room-temperature food.
Ask your dietitian or doctor if a medical food supplement such
as Ensure®, Boost®, Carnation® Breakfast Essentials™ or Boost Glucose Control® is right for you.
Other tips for mouth sores:
- Rinse your mouth every
two hours for 15-20 seconds with 1 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1
quart of water.
- Use a cold-air humidifier
- Brush your teeth with
a soft, nylon-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste that contains
fluoride. Note that whitening toothpastes may contain hydrogen peroxide, which
can irritate sore mouths.
- Avoid mouthwashes
containing alcohol or other irritants.
- Remove and clean
dentures between meals on a regular basis; if sores are present under your
dentures, leave them out between meals and at night.
- Avoid toothpicks and
other sharp objects.
- Keep lips moist with
petroleum jelly, a mild lip balm or cocoa butter.
- Ask your physician if
a prescription medication rinse is right for you.
- Notify your physician if you notice white patchy
areas which may indicate yeast or fungal growth