Goals of work: This study sought to characterize the range of oral symptoms and affect upon quality of life reported by pediatric and adolescent patients in relation to the severity of oral mucositis and symptom burden during chemotherapy.
Patients and methods: A multicenter study included 140 patients between 6 and 18 years of age who had been treated with chemotherapy. Participants completed the self-report Mouth and Throat Soreness-related Questions of the Oral Mucositis Daily Questionnaire (OMDQ) for 14 days and the Oral Mucositis-specific Quality of Life Measure (OMQoL) at baseline, day 7, and day 14.
Main results: The incidences of non-severe and severe mucositis were 23% (n = 32) and 18% (n = 25), respectively. The symptoms reported by the patients with oral mucositis were related to eating (82.4%), swallowing (78.9%), drinking (75.4%), sleeping (71.9%), and talking (43.9%). Approximately 39% (22 out of 57) of patients with mucositis reported at least two simultaneous symptoms resulting from oral mucositis. About a quarter of them (25%, 14 out of 57) reported having all five symptoms concurrently. The mean area under curve (AUC) scores for symptom severity were significantly higher in the severe mucositis group (mean 0.95 to 1.21; 95% CI 0.76 to 1.34) compared with the non-severe (mean 0.50 to 1.06; 95% CI 0.35 to 1.30) and the without mucositis (mean 0 to 0.09; 95% CI 0 to 0.12) groups (p < 0.001). Wald's method generated two clusters: a low-symptom group (n = 102; 72.9%) and a high-symptom group (n = 38; 27.1%). The high-symptom group reported significantly lower mean AUC OMQoL subscale scores (mean 62.2 to 79.2; 95% CI 55.9 to 88.2 versus mean 93.1 to 97.1; 95% CI 91.7 to 98.3, respectively; p < 0.001) and higher mean AUC distress score (mean 1.9 ± 0.5; 95% CI 1.7 to 2 versus mean 1.1 ± 0.2; 95% CI 1.1 to 1.1, respectively; p < 0.001) than the low-symptom group. Swallowing and sleeping had the strongest standardized coefficients in OMQoL subscale scores (swallowing: -0.321 to -0.767; sleeping: -0.406 to -0.773), as well as distress scores (0.468 and 0.557, respectively).
Conclusions: Severe oral mucositis is a common cause of morbidity in pediatric and adolescent patients undergoing chemotherapy. High-symptom burden due to mucositis may have profound impacts on patient quality of life and levels of psychological distress.