Introduction: Oral mucositis is a frequent and devastating toxicity secondary to cancer treatment, which may affect 20–40% of patients receiving conventional chemotherapy and 60–85% of patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The pathobiology of mucositis includes a complex cascade of biologic events in which pro-inflammatory cytokines, ROS, second messengers, and the oral microbiome contribute to tissue damage of the oral mucosa. Management strategies to oral mucositis secondary to chemotherapy include preventative measures and therapeutic approaches.

Area covered: A literature search of published animal and clinical studies was perform to review the epidemiology, pathophysiology and treatment options for cancer regimen-induced mucositis. We also discuss new data coming from recent pertinent clinical trials.

Expert opinion: Mucositis is one of the most common debilitating toxicities secondary to cancer treatment and can adversely affect patients’ quality of life. Epidemiological data for mucositis are often under-reported. Research efforts have shown that genetics plays a major role in the development of this toxicity. Although few therapeutic agents are available, several promising drugs are under investigations.