Prophylactic and Therapeutic Effects of Curcumin on Treatment-Induced Oral Mucositis in Patients with Head and Neck Cancer: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Nutr Cancer. 2021;73(5):740-749. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2020.1776884. Epub 2020 Jun 9.


Objective: Clinical trials have explored the role of curcumin in the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis (OM) in head and neck cancer patients. To provide evidence for curcumin management of OM for clinicians, a comprehensive meta-analysis of these findings is necessary. This meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of curcumin for OM caused by radiotherapy (RT) and/or chemotherapy (CT) for head and neck cancer.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials were identified from the PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, Medline, and Google Scholar databases. RevMan 5.3 was used for statistical analysis to calculate the combined risk ratios (RRs).

Results: Six studies involving 266 patients were included. Curcumin considerably reduced weight loss (mean difference [MD] - 0.78) in both the prophylactic and therapeutic phases. When used as a preventative treatment, curcumin did not reduce the incidence of OM (RR 0.99), but it did reduce the incidence of severe OM (RR 0.44) and the mean severity of OM (SMD -1.44). Curcumin also reduced the severity of OM (MD 0.82) compared to chlorhexidine.

Conclusion: Curcumin is a safe, natural bioactive substance that can effectively prevent and treat OM in patients receiving RT and/or CT, as well as reduce weight loss.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Curcumin*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Stomatitis* / chemically induced
  • Stomatitis* / drug therapy
  • Stomatitis* / prevention & control


  • Curcumin