Controlling Mouth Sores from Melphalan
One of the side effects of high doses of medicines used in stem cell transplant can be painful mouth sores. A cancer treatment drug called melphalan may damage the lining of your mouth. This can cause pain when you eat or drink.
Your doctors and nurses will try to keep you as comfortable as possible during your treatment but we do not know how severe your mouth sores can be.
What is cryotherapy?
Oral Cryotherapy is cooling the mouth with ice. This cooling effect results in less blood flow to the lining of the mouth. A smaller amount of blood flow means the tissues in the mouth are exposed to less melphelan. The lining of the mouth may be protected from some of the harmful effects of melphalan.
Research studies have shown that sucking on ice chips (cryotherapy) before, during, and after melphalan is given may reduce the chances of having mouth sores. If you do develop mouth sores, they may not be as severe. Studies have also shown that cryotherapy may reduce the amount of pain medication needed and the number of days in the hospital.
How is cryotherapy done?
You will be given ice chips to keep in your mouth starting 10 minutes before your treatment. Continue to hold ice chips until they melt, then swallow and repeat. Replace the ice in your mouth during your treatment and for 1 hour after treatment is finished. We suggest ice chips over popsicles or other ways of cooling to reach as many parts of the mouth as possible.
What are possible side effects of cryotherapy?
Some patients have had mild short-term side effects such as chills or nausea. If your teeth are sensitive to cold, you may not want to use cryotherapy. We do not know the shortest amount of time needed for it to work. One hour is based on how the drug goes through your body. We do not believe that cryotherapy reduces the effectiveness of melphalan on your cancer.
Cryotherapy is an optional procedure that may reduce mouth sores caused by melphelan. Please talk to your nurse if you want to use cryotherapy.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 08/21/2013
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