Oral mucositis secondary to head and neck chemoradiation displays a complex molecular pathogenesis involving epithelial and microvascular injury, release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and host-microbiome communications. These processes lead to oxidative stress and the release of reactive oxygen species that stifle the structural integrity of the oral mucosa, with emergence of erosions and ulcers. The consequences are malnutrition, psychological/psychiatric symptoms, poor quality of life, and occurrence of opportunistic infections. The latter pose a major challenge due to the risk of interruption of anti-neoplastic therapy, tumour recurrence and, ultimately, death. This article aims to present the clinical characteristics, molecular pathogenesis, and an overview of the predisposing factors and current management of oral mucositis. It is anticipated that the future direction of the management of oral mucositis will focus on evidence-based prehabilitation and pre- and per-chemoradiation therapy monitoring.
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