- H Worthington, O Eden, and J Clarkson
- Cochrane Database Syst Rev, January 1, 2004; (4): CD003807
Treatment of cancer is increasingly more effective but is associated with short and long term side effects. Oral side effects remain a major source of illness despite the use of a variety of agents to prevent and treat them. One of these side effects is oral candidiasis.
To assess the effectiveness of interventions (which may include placebo or no treatment) for the prevention of oral candidiasis for patients with cancer receiving chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
Electronic databases: Cochrane Oral Health Group’s Trials Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, MEDLINE Pre-indexed, EMBASE, CINAHL, CANCERLIT, SIGLE and LILACS were searched. Date of the most recent searches April 2004 (CENTRAL Issue 2, 2004).
Trials were selected if they met the following criteria:
design – random allocation of participants;
participants – anyone receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer;
interventions – agents prescribed to prevent oral candidiasis; primary outcome – prevention of oral candidiasis.
Data Collection and Analysis:
Data were recorded on the following secondary outcomes if present: relief of pain, amount of analgesia, relief of dysphagia, incidence of systemic infection, duration of stay in hospital (days), cost of oral care, patient quality of life, death, use of empirical antifungal treatment, toxicity and compliance.Information regarding methods, participants, interventions, outcome measures and results were independently extracted, in duplicate, by two reviewers (HW & JC). The Cochrane Oral Health Group statistical guidelines were followed and relative risk values calculated using random effects models. Potential sources of heterogeneity were examined in random effects metaregression analyses.
Twenty-eight trials involving 4226 patients satisfied the inclusion criteria. Drugs absorbed and partially absorbed from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract were found to prevent oral candidiasis when compared to a placebo, or a no treatment control group, with RR for absorbed drugs = 0.47 (95% CI 0.29 to 0.78). For absorbed drugs in populations with an incidence of 20% (mid range of results in control groups), this implies a NNT of 9 (95% CI 7 to 13) patients need to be treated to avoid one patient getting oral candidiasis. There was no significant benefit shown for drugs not absorbed from the GI tract.
There is strong evidence, from randomised controlled trials, that drugs absorbed or partially absorbed from the GI tract prevent oral candidiasis in patients receiving treatment for cancer. There is also evidence that these drugs are significantly better at preventing oral candidiasis than drugs not absorbed from the GI.