Background: Oral mucositis is a serious complication of chemotherapy that results in painful debilitating inflammation, necessitating the administration of analgesics. There is no cure for mucositis. Some studies have evaluated the effect of zinc sulfate on mucositis. The present study aims to evaluate the effect of oral zinc sulfate on prevention of mucositis, xerostomia, and pain induced by chemotherapy.
Methods: This double-blind, randomized controlled trial was carried out on 50 adult patients who underwent chemotherapy during 2008-2009. Patients were divided in two groups. Patients in the intervention group were administered three, 220 mg zinc sulfate capsules daily until the end of their chemotherapy treatment. Patients in the placebo group received three placebo capsules daily, which were similar in shape, taste, and color to the zinc sulfate capsules. Data were analyzed by SPSS version 17 software, using the independent samples t-test, Mann-Whitney U and Friedman tests.
Results: The incidence of grade 3 mucositis was lower in the zinc sulfate group. In the first follow up, grade 3 mucositis was detected in 10% of patients. In the placebo group, grade 3 mucositis was seen in 46.6% of patients. By the fourth follow up, grade 3 mucositis was detected in 3.33% of patients in the intervention group and in 20% of patient in the placebo group. At the end of the study there was no grade 3 mucositis detected in the zinc sulfate group, whereas there were 3.57% of patients in the placebo group with grade 3 mucositis. The results also showed that zinc sulfate decreased the effects of xerostomia and pain in patients under chemotherapy treatment.
Conclusion: It can be concluded that zinc sulfate might decrease the intensity of mucositis.