Oral mucositis (OM) is an unpleasant adverse event in patients receiving chemotherapy. A prospective feasibility study showed that elemental diet (ED), an oral supplement that does not require digestion, may prevent OM. Based on this, we established a central review system for oral cavity assessment by dental oncology specialists blinded to background data. We used this system to elucidate the preventive effect of an ED against OM in patients with esophageal cancer receiving docetaxel, cisplatin, and 5-fluorouracil (DCF) therapy.
In this phase III, multicenter, parallel-group, controlled trial, patients consuming a normal diet orally were randomly assigned (1 : 1) to receive two cycles of DCF with (group A) or without (group B) an ED (Elental® 160 g/day). We assessed the incidence of grade ≥2 OM evaluated by two reviewers, changes in body weight, prealbumin, C-reactive protein, and DCF completion rate based on ED compliance.
Of the 117 patients randomly assigned to treatment, four failed to start treatment and were excluded from the primary analysis; thus, groups A and B comprised 55 and 58 patients, respectively. There were no significant differences in background characteristics. Grade ≥2 OM was observed in eight (15%) and 20 (34%) patients in groups A and B, respectively (P = 0.0141). Changes in body weight and prealbumin during the two DCF cycles were significantly higher in group A than B (P = 0.0022 and 0.0203, respectively). During the first cycle, changes in C-reactive protein were significantly lower in group A than B (P = 0.0338). In group A (receiving ED), the DCF completion rate was 100% in patients with 100% ED compliance and 70% in patients failing ED completion (P = 0.0046).
The study findings demonstrate that an ED can prevent OM in patients with esophageal cancer receiving chemotherapy.

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