Diagnosing mucositis 

Mucositis can usually be diagnosed with a description of your symptoms and after a physical examination.

Oral mucositis

If you're receiving high-dose chemotherapy or radiotherapy, it's likely that you will receive regular (weekly) assessments for mucositis until the risk of developing the condition has passed.

To confirm a diagnosis of oral mucositis, an assessment is made by:

  • examining your mouth
  • asking about any symptoms of pain you have
  • checking you are still able to eat and drink properly

Healthcare professionals use a grading system to determine how serious the symptoms of oral mucositis are. There are several different grading systems available.

The World Health Organization (WHO) uses the grading system described below:

  • grade one: you're experiencing symptoms of soreness, but there are no ulcers in your mouth
  • grade two: you have ulcers in your mouth, but are still able to eat solid food
  • grade three: you're no longer able to eat solid food, but can still swallow liquids
  • grade four: you're unable to swallow solid foods or liquid

Cases of grade one or two mucositis can usually be treated at home. Cases of grade three and four mucositis usually require admission to hospital so you can be given nutritional support and your general health can be carefully monitored. 

Read more about treating mucositis.

Gastrointestinal mucositis

A diagnosis of gastrointestinal mucositis can usually be made by asking you about your symptoms.

In rare cases, further testing may be required if it's thought that a serious complication has occurred.

For example, a bowel obstruction (blockage) or a perforated (burst) intestine may be diagnosed using a computerised tomography (CT) scan. This is where multiple X-rays are taken at slightly different angles and put together by a computer to create a detailed image of the inside of your body.

Page last reviewed: 19/12/2014

Next review due: 19/12/2017