“Bet if I told you that mouth sores are a common side effect of cancer, you wouldn’t believe me right?! 🙋♀️ Did you know one of the MOST COMMON and painful side effects of #cancer treatment is Oral Mucositis (you know, painful large patches of sores appearing in your mouth). I remember it being SO hard to even talk or eat when I had this. Y’all, I couldn’t even eat tacos on our weekly taco Tuesday 😭 And if you’ve been following me since my #chemo days then you know this to be true 😏 Unfortunately when it comes to this side effect, a lot of people report they lack support, information, and many times, care from their medical team.” – Sabrina Skiles, breast cancer survivor, advocate and author of Read That Again, a modern survival guide for navigating breast cancer.
This breast cancer survivor’s experience brings to light a lesser-known but significant side effect of breast cancer treatment: oral mucositis. Often overshadowed by other symptoms, it can become a debilitating condition that significantly impacts a patient’s quality of life. Oral mucositis is an inflammation and ulceration of the mouth’s mucosal lining, typically occurring as a side effect of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. While it can affect any cancer patient, breast cancer treatments, especially those involving certain chemotherapy drugs, are known to heighten its risk. The severity and onset of oral mucositis vary from person to person, but its impact is universally challenging, making everyday activities like eating, talking, and even smiling, painful.
Oral mucositis, though common in breast cancer patients undergoing treatment, can sometimes go unrecognized in its early stages. Being vigilant about its symptoms is crucial for timely management and relief. So, what signs should patients and their caregivers look out for? The onset is often marked by a mild burning or sore sensation in the mouth. As the condition progresses, it can lead to the formation of painful ulcers or sores, especially on the gums, tongue, and inside of the cheeks. These sores can vary in size and severity, from small, annoying lesions to large, debilitating ulcers that make it challenging to eat, drink, and speak. In some cases, the sores might bleed, and there can be an increased risk of oral infections due to the open wounds. Another key symptom is a noticeable change in the mouth’s appearance, such as redness and swelling of the mucosa. Patients might also experience a dry mouth or thick saliva, making swallowing difficult. Given the varied nature of these symptoms, it’s essential to keep a close track of any oral changes during and after cancer treatment.
This is where tools like the Outcomes4Me app become invaluable. The app’s symptom tracker allows patients to record and monitor these symptoms, ensuring that any signs of oral mucositis are promptly noted and addressed. Timely identification of symptoms not only aids in better management but also helps healthcare providers tailor treatment plans to minimize discomfort and promote healing.
While oral mucositis can be a distressing side effect of breast cancer treatment, there are several ways to manage and alleviate its symptoms. The key is to combine medical treatments with self-care strategies to ensure comprehensive care.
Managing oral mucositis in breast cancer treatment involves a combination of medical and self-care strategies. Medically, topical treatments like mouthwashes, gels, and sprays reduce sores and inflammation, while pain management ranges from over-the-counter to prescription medications. Infection control is crucial, involving antibacterial mouthwashes or antibiotics. Self-care includes gentle oral hygiene with soft-bristled toothbrushes, dietary adjustments to avoid irritating foods, and maintaining hydration by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol or tobacco. These measures collectively help in soothing symptoms and promoting healing.
It’s important to remember that each patient’s experience with oral mucositis can be different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Regular communication with healthcare providers and tracking symptoms using tools like the Outcomes4Me app can greatly assist in finding the right combination of treatments and self-care strategies.
Oral mucositis, while a common side effect of breast cancer treatment, doesn’t have to be a complication you navigate alone. Understanding the condition and being vigilant about symptoms can significantly improve your ability to manage it. Remember, taking proactive steps in your care can make a significant difference in your treatment experience.
Embrace control and empowerment in your treatment plan with Outcomes4Me, navigating side effects with confidence. Simplify symptom tracking, including oral mucositis, with with the Outcomes4Me App, empowering you to identify patterns and communicate better with healthcare providers. Access a wealth of information on treatment options and self-care, share your concerns with your medical team for personalized care, and connect with a supportive community who gets it.