Clinical presentation and management of mTOR inhibitor-associated stomatitis

Oral Oncol. 2011 Oct;47(10):998-1003. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2011.08.009. Epub 2011 Sep 3.


Anti-cancer agents that inhibit the mTOR pathway are associated with a number of unique toxicities, with one of the most significant and potentially dose-limiting being stomatitis. The objective of this study was to report the clinical features and management outcomes of a series of cancer patients who developed painful mTOR inhibitor-associated stomatitis (mIAS). Seventeen cancer patients developed mIAS while being treated with everolimus- or ridaforolimus-containing protocols at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and were referred to the oral medicine clinic for evaluation and management. Clinical characteristics, toxicity management, and outcomes were summarized. In addition, the frequency and rationale for dose reductions and therapy discontinuation were assessed. The median duration of mTOR inhibitor therapy was 80 days (range 9-187 days). The median time to development of mouth ulcers was 10 days (range 4-25 days). Five patients required protocol-directed dose reductions due to grades 2 and 3 stomatitis and one patient discontinued cancer treatment due to mouth ulcers. Clinical improvement and pain relief was reported in 86.6% of patients following topical, intralesional, or systemic corticosteroid therapy, with side effects limited to secondary candidiasis (n=2). Mouth ulcers are a common and potentially dose limiting toxicity associated with the use of mTOR inhibitors in cancer treatment. This case series demonstrates that local and systemic corticosteroid therapy is an effective approach to managing patients with symptomatic mIAS. Prospective studies are necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment and prevention strategies with the ultimate goal of improving overall cancer treatment outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Everolimus
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sirolimus / adverse effects
  • Sirolimus / analogs & derivatives*
  • Stomatitis / chemically induced*
  • Stomatitis / drug therapy
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • ridaforolimus
  • Everolimus
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Sirolimus