WASHINGTON, DC—Preventive use of MuGard, a mucoadhesive oral protectant, in patients undergoing head and neck radiation therapy “is a powerful tool in reducing oral mucositis incidence, reducing significant weight loss, and reducing the need for narcotic use,” results of a study presented at the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) 38th Annual Congress have found.

The study investigated the clinical effects of MuGard on decreasing severity of oral mucositis—a challenge for both patients and nurses—in 125 patients receiving radiation therapy treatment for primary head and neck cancer. The goal of the study was to determine if the use of MuGard at treatment initiation would decrease oral mucositis grade, pain, and the need for narcotics while minimizing weight loss.

The patients were “instructed to gently swish and swallow 5 mL of MuGard 4 to 6 times daily starting on the first day cancer treatment begins and continuing a week or longer after treatment ends,” stated Carrie Daly, RN, MS, APN, AOCN®, of Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL. Patient weight, pain assessment, oral assessment, and NCI oral mucositis toxicity grading were performed and documented biweekly.

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The patients were enrolled in the study over 18 months. The 105 patients who adhered to treatment recommendations for MuGard had an oral mucositis grade 1 or 2 on the NCI toxicity grading scale; a <5-pound weight loss; and narcotics were initiated at week 5 of therapy—if at all. Among the 20 patients who were noncompliant using MuGard as instructed, 10 developed grade 3 oral mucositis.

“Our results indicate that the preventative use of MuGard in patients who have undergone radiation therapy to the head and neck region is a powerful tool in reducing OM incidence, reducing significant weight loss and reducing the need for narcotic use,” the researchers concluded.