Mucositis, or mouth sores, is a common side effect of chemoradiotherapy for head and neck cancer that is painful and can be very severe. Physicians cannot predict which patients will have mild mucositis or severe mucositis that would require narcotic pain medication, nutritional support and/or feeding tubes.
Researchers in this study hypothesized that using sensitive thermal imaging technology to measure temperature changes of less than one-tenth of a degree early in treatment could predict the severity of mucositis later in treatment. This knowledge could allow for early intervention and potential changes in therapy using a technology that is simple, harmless and non-invasive.
Patients receiving chemoradiotherapy underwent baseline and weekly thermal imaging of their oral mucus membranes. All patients displayed an increase in temperature and severe mucositis was found in 53 percent of patients.
“If we could predict which patients were going to suffer the greatest toxicity, we could proactively make changes to their care that could ameliorate or prevent side effects,” Ezra Cohen, MD, lead author of the study and co-director of the head and neck cancer program at The University of Chicago in Chicago, said. “Ultimately, we could identify the patients at higher risk of severe complications from treatment.”
The abstract, “Pilot study of functional infrared imaging for early detection of mucositis in locally advanced head and neck cancer treated with chemoradiotherapy,” will be presented as a poster presentation. To speak with one of the study authors, contact Beth Bukata or Nicole Napoli on January 26-27, 2012, in the press room at the Arizona Biltmore at 602-912-7854 or 703-839-7336.
About the American Head and Neck Society
The American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) is the single largest organization in North America for the advancement of research and education in head and neck oncology. The purpose of the AHNS is to promote and advance the knowledge of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of neoplasms and other diseases of the head and neck; to promote and advance research in diseases of the head and neck; and to promote and advance the highest professional and ethical standards.
About the American Society of Clinical Oncology
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which funds ground-breaking research and programs that make a tangible difference in the lives of people with cancer. For ASCO information and resources, visit www.asco.org. Patient-oriented cancer information is available at www.cancer.net.
About the American Society for Radiation Oncology
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through education, clinical practice, advancement of science and advocacy. For more information on radiation therapy, visit www.rtanswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.
About SNM—Advancing Molecular Imaging and Therapy
SNM is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to raising public awareness about what molecular imaging is and how it can help provide patients with the best health care possible. SNM members specialize in molecular imaging, a vital element of today’s medical practice that adds an additional dimension to diagnosis, changing the way common and devastating diseases are understood and treated.