Randomized trial of a chlorhexidine mouthwash for alleviation of radiation-induced mucositis

Robert L. Foote, Charles L. Loprinzi, Albert R. Frank, Judith R. O'Fallon, Sunil Gulavita, Hamed H. Tewfik, Martha A. Ryan, Julie M. Earle, Paul Novotny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether a chlorhexidine mouthwash could alleviate radiation-induced oral mucositis. Patients and Methods: Patients scheduled to receive radiation therapy to include greater than one third of the oral cavity mucosa were selected for study. Following stratification, they were randomized in a double-blind manner to receive a chlorhexidine mouthwash or a placebo mouthwash. Both groups were then similarly evaluated for mucositis and mouthwash toxicity. Results: Twenty-five patients were randomized to receive the chlorhexidine mouthwash, while 27 received the placebo mouthwash. Treatment arms were well balanced. There was a trend for more mucositis and there was substantially more toxicity (eg, mouthwash-induced discomfort, taste alteration, and teeth staining) on the chlorhexidine arm. Conclusion: In contrast to the prestudy hypothesis that a chlorhexidine mouthwash might provide benefit for patients receiving radiation therapy to the oral mucosa, this study provides strong evidence suggesting that a chlorhexidine mouthwash is detrimental in this clinical situation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2630-2633
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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