Author: James Nam, PharmD
The addition of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, arginine, and glutamine (HMB/Arg/Gln) to opioid-based pain control (OBPC) and oral care programs does not effectively prevent chemoradiotherapy (CRT)-induced oral mucositis (OM) in patients with head and neck cancer (HNC), according to a study published in Supportive Care in Cancer.
Chemoradiotherapy with a cisplatin-based chemotherapy regimen is the standard of care for patients with HNC, but is associated with a high incidence of CRT-induced OM. OBPC and oral care programs are insufficient in reducing OM incidence; there is a need for additional interventions to prevent and treat OM.
For this phase 2 study, researchers treated 35 patients with HNC scheduled to receive definitive or postoperative cisplatin-based CRT with oral or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy-delivered HMB/Arg/Gln; all patients underwent OBPC and oral care programs.
Results showed that 45.7% (16) of patients developed symptomatic or functional grade 3 or worse OM. Grade 1 or less OM occurred in 51.1% of patients at 2 weeks and in 82.9% of patients at 4 weeks postradiotherapy completion.
Clinical examination, however, revealed that 28.6% (10) of patients developed grade 3 or worse OM, and the incidence of grade 1 or less OM was 80.0% and 100% at 2 weeks and 4 weeks after completing radiotherapy, respectively.
The most frequently reported adverse events included diarrhea and an increase in blood urea nitrogen, but were easily managed with standard care.
Evidence from the study demonstrates that HMB/Arg/Gln does not effectively decrease OM incidence; however, the authors concluded that “the benefit of HMB/Arg/Gln should not be neglected given the findings of clinical examinations and the rapid recovery from severe OM.”
1. Yokota T, Hamauchi S, Yoshida Y, et al. A phase II study of HMB/Arg/Gln against oral mucositis induced by chemoradiotherapy for patients with head and neck cancer [published online April 7, 2018]. Support Care Cancer. doi: 10.1007/s00520-018-4175/4