Mouth and Throat Sores (Mucositis)



Mouth and throat sores, also called mucositis, look like ulcers and can be red and swollen. Pain from these sores can affect your ability to eat, drink, chew, swallow, and talk. If your immune system is suppressed, you may be more likely to get an oral yeast infection. Oral yeast infections can cause mouth and throat sores and can make any sores you have worse. An oral yeast infection looks like you have a coating of cottage cheese inside your mouth.

Some breast cancer treatments may cause mouth and throat sores:

  • chemotherapy:
    • Adriamycin (chemical name: doxorubicin)
    • Cytoxan (chemical name: cyclophosphamide)
    • Doxil (chemical name: doxorubicin)
    • Ellence (chemical name: epirubicin)
    • fluorouracil (also called 5-fluorouracil or 5-FU; brand name: Adrucil)
    • Ixempra (chemical name: ixabepilone)
    • methotrexate (brand names: Amethopterin, Mexate, Folex)
    • Mitomycin (chemical name: mutamycin)
    • mitoxantrone (brand name: Novantrone)
    • Navelbine (chemical name: vinorelbine)
    • Taxol (chemical name: paclitaxel)
    • Taxotere (chemical name: docetaxel)
    • Xeloda (chemical name: capecitabine)
  • radiation therapy
  • some targeted therapies:
    • Afinitor (chemical name: everolimus)
    • Avastin (chemical name: bevacizumab)
    • Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab)
    • Ibrance (chemical name: palbociclib)
    • Lynparza (chemical name: olaparib)
    • Nerlynx (chemical name: neratinib)
    • Piqray (chemical name: alpelisib)
    • Tykerb (chemical name: lapatanib)

Managing mouth and throat sores

  • Avoid spicy, hot, or acidic foods and drinks they can further irritate your condition.
  • Try cold milk products to help soothe the painful areas.
  • Eat cold sour cream before meals to coat your mouth and throat and ease discomfort.
  • Frequently rinse your mouth with salt water or water mixed with baking soda.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth after each meal.
  • Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol — it could make your sores burn.
  • Stop smoking and avoid drinking alcohol to avoid further irritation.
  • Ask your doctor if a topical medicine to numb the sore areas or an alcohol-free oral rinse gel for pain relief is appropriate for you.

If you think your mouth and throat sores have been made worse by an oral yeast infection, talk to your doctor about anti-yeast medications.

Learn more on our Eating When You Have a Sore Mouth or Throat page.

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