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Comparative efficacy and safety of interventions for preventing chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis in adult cancer patients: a systematic review and network meta-analysis

Objective

To examine the comparative efficacy and safety of interventions for preventing chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis (OM) in adult cancer patients.

Methods

We searched PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Central systematically for the randomised control trials (RCTs) of interventions for preventing OM. Network meta-analysis (NMA) was performed to estimate risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) from both direct and indirect evidence. The primary outcome was any grade of OM. Secondary outcomes were mild-moderate OM, severe OM and adverse events, such as taste disturbance and gastrointestinal adverse events. This study was registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42016052489.

Results

A total of 29 RCTs with 2348 patients (median age, 56.1 years; 57.5% male) were included. Cryotherapy was associated with a significantly lower risk of OM than control (RR 0.51, 95% CI 0.38 to 0.68), and zinc sulphate (RR 0.47, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.97), but not significantly lower than sucralfate and palifermin. No significant differences were observed between cryotherapy and control for taste disturbance and gastrointestinal adverse events. Palifermin was associated with the highest risk of taste disturbance.

Conclusions

This NMA suggests that cryotherapy was the most effective intervention for preventing chemotherapy-induced OM with a safety profile similar to control, but not significantly lower than sucralfate and palifermin. Large RCTs are needed to confirm these findings.

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