Background: Chemotherapy-induced oral thermal hyperalgesia (OTH) is a common and debilitating side effect of platinum-based anticancer agents. This study evaluated the efficacy of oral cryotherapy in preventing OTH during oxaliplatin chemotherapy infusion. Methods: Patients with gastrointestinal cancer treated with biweekly oxaliplatin (85 mg/m2 over 120 minutes) at Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania were randomized to receive oral cryotherapy (ice chips) during oxaliplatin infusion or standard-of-care treatment. All patients completed baseline questionnaires regarding oral and peripheral symptoms and on-treatment questionnaires on day 1 of each subsequent chemotherapy cycle. Those in the treatment arm were asked to document how long they kept the ice chips in their mouths (0, <30, 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes) and to report their discomfort associated with oral cryotherapy. Evaluable patients were those who had completed at least 2 cycles of oxaliplatin therapy. Results: Of 62 randomized patients with a variety of gastrointestinal malignancies, 50 (25 per treatment arm) were evaluable for efficacy. The rate of patients with oral symptoms after the first treatment cycle was significantly lower in the intervention arm (n=8; 32%) than in the control arm (n=18; 72%), meeting the primary study objective (P=.01). The magnitude of difference in symptom scores before versus after the first treatment cycle was significantly less in the intervention versus control arm (P=.001). No difference in oral symptoms over time was seen between the intervention and control groups (P=.20), although a high attrition rate was noted. Duration of ice chip exposure was associated with improved oral symptoms over time (P=.02). Conclusions: Oral cryotherapy is a tolerable and cost-effective method of diminishing OTH in patients receiving oxaliplatin chemotherapy, and seems to be most effective in the early stages of treatment.
Correspondence: Kim A. Reiss, MD, Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, 3400 Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Email: email@example.com