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Sore Mouth in Cancer Patients

Updated at: Jan 13, 2013
Written by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Jan 13, 2013
Sore Mouth in Cancer Patients

Sore Mouth in Cancer PatientsWhat it is ?

Radiation therapy to the head or neck, chemotherapy, and biological therapy can cause mouth sores (little cuts or ulcers in your mouth) and tender gums. Dental problems or mouth infections, such as thrush, can also make your mouth sore.

Why it happens ?

Cancer treatments can harm the fast-growing cells in the lining of your mouth and lips. Your mouth and gums will most likely feel better once cancer treatment ends.

Ways to manage with food

    * Choose foods that are easy to chew. Certain foods can hurt a sore mouth and make it harder to chew and swallow. To help, choose soft foods such as milkshakes, scrambled eggs, and custards. Try the recipe for Fruit and Cream. For other ideas, see the list of foods and drinks that are easy to chew and swallow.
    * Cook foods until they are soft and tender.
    * Cut food into small pieces. You can also puree foods using a blender or food processor.
    * Drink with a straw. This can help push the drinks beyond the painful parts of your mouth.
    * Use a very small spoon (such as a baby spoon). This will help you take smaller bites, which may be easier to chew.
    * Eat cold or room-temperature food. Your mouth may hurt more if food is too hot.
    * Suck on ice chips. Ice may help numb and soothe your mouth.
    * Avoid certain foods and drinks when your mouth is sore.

      These include:
          o Citrus fruits and juices, such as oranges, lemons, and lemonade
          o Spicy foods, such as hot sauces, curry dishes, salsa, and chili peppers
          o Tomatoes and ketchup
          o Salty foods
          o Raw vegetables
          o Sharp, crunchy foods, such as granola, crackers, and potato and tortilla chips
          o Drinks that contain alcohol

If you have a sore mouth, do not use tobacco products or drink alcohol.

Other ways to manage

    * Talk with a dietitian. He or she can help you choose foods that are easy on a sore mouth.
    * Visit a dentist at least 2 weeks before starting biological therapy, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy to the head or neck. It is important to have a healthy mouth before starting cancer treatment. Try to get all needed dental work done before your treatment starts. If you can’t, ask your doctor or nurse when it will be safe to go to the dentist. Tell your dentist that you have cancer and the type of treatment you are getting.
    * Rinse your mouth 3 to 4 times a day. Mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt with 1 cup warm water. Rinse with plain water after using this mixture.
    * Check each day for any sores, white patches, or puffy and red areas in your mouth. This way, you can see or feel problems as soon as they start. Tell your doctor if you notice these changes.
    * Do not use items that can hurt or burn your mouth, such as:
          o Mouthwash with any alcohol in it
          o Toothpicks or other sharp objec...


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