Mucositis is when your mouth or gut is sore and inflamed. It's a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer. It can be very unpleasant, but usually stops in a few weeks.
Things you can do to help
If you're having cancer treatment, there are some things you can do to help prevent and ease mucositis.
- brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush at least twice a day
- floss once a day
- rinse your mouth with warm water (or water mixed with a bit of salt) several times a day
- suck on crushed ice or ice lollies
- eat soft, moist foods (try adding gravy or sauces to meals)
- drink plenty of water
- chew sugar-free gum (this can help keep your mouth moist)
- do not use mouthwashes from shops without speaking to a pharmacist, nurse or doctor – they might irritate your mouth
- do not eat crunchy, rough or sharp foods like crisps
- do not eat hot, spicy or salty foods
- do not eat acidic foods like tomatoes, oranges or lemons
- do not drink hot drinks (like tea and coffee), fizzy drinks or alcohol
- do not smoke
- do not take painkillers without speaking to a pharmacist, nurse or doctor
Non-urgent advice: Tell your care team if you're having cancer treatment and get:
- a sore mouth
- mouth ulcers
- difficulty swallowing, eating or talking
- a dry mouth and lips
- diarrhoea, bleeding from your bottom, or pain when pooing
These are symptoms of mucositis. They usually begin around 1 to 2 weeks after starting cancer treatment.
Treatments for mucositis
Mucositis should get better within a few weeks of finishing cancer treatment.
Your care team can offer treatments to ease it, such as:
- mouthwashes that clean, numb and protect your mouth
- sprays or gels to keep your mouth moist (saliva substitutes)
- medicines to stop diarrhoea or reduce soreness inside your bottom (rectum)
Talking to others can help
You may also find it useful to chat to people in a similar situation or who have had cancer treatment before.
Ask your care team about support groups in your area.
You could also try an online forum like:
Page last reviewed: 23 November 2017
Next review due: 23 November 2020