Purpose: To compare the efficacy of an Aloe vera mouthwash with a benzydamine mouthwash in the alleviation of radiation- induced mucositis in head and neck cancer patients using a triple-blind, randomised controlled trial.
Materials and methods: Twenty-six eligible head and neck cancer patients who were to receive conventional radiation therapy at the radiation oncology department were randomised to receive an Aloe vera mouthwash or a benzydamine mouthwash. Mucositis severity was assessed during the course of radiation therapy using the WHO grading system.
Results: At baseline, there was no difference in the distribution of mucositis severity between the two groups. The mean interval between radiation therapy and onset of mucositis was similar for both groups (Aloe vera 15.69±7.77 days, benzydamine 15.85±12.96 days). The mean interval between the start of radiation therapy and the maximum severity of mucositis were was also similar in both the Aloe vera and benzydamine groups (Aloe vera 23.38±10.75 days, benzydamine 23.54±15.45 days). Mean changes of mucositis severity over time in both groups were statistically similar and the effect of both treatments did not change signficantly with time (p=0.09).
Conclusion: Aloe vera mouthwash was as beneficial as benzydamine mouthwash in alleviating the severity of radiation-induced mucositis and showed no side effects. The Aloe vera mouthwash could be an alternative agent in the treatment of radiation-induced mucositis in patients with head and neck cancers.