METHODS: Oncologists involved in OM management (n = 105), and patients who developed OM during cancer treatment (n = 175), were recruited from seven Asian countries. Oncologists completed a face-to-face, quantitative interview; patients completed a face-to-face interview, and a self-reported questionnaire.
RESULTS: Oncologists and patients ranked treatment-induced OM among the three most important toxicities of cancer therapy requiring intervention. The most frequent OM symptoms reported by patients were oral ulcers (74%), dry mouth (73%), and difficulty swallowing (62%). Oncologists expected mild OM symptoms to last slightly longer than 1 week, whereas patients reported mild symptoms for more than 2 weeks. In mild-to-moderate OM, oncologists underestimated patients' pain experience. Overall, only 45% of oncologists said they would initiate OM prophylaxis when cancer therapy started. Of the 87% of patients who said they used their prescribed medications, only 16% reported using prophylactically prescribed medication. While oncologists' concerns related to the delays and interruptions of cancer treatment, patients tended to focus on the effects of OM on eating, drinking, and talking.
CONCLUSIONS: Oncologists' and patients' perceptions about treatment-induced OM differ. To overcome discordant perspectives, there is a need to raise general awareness and improve proactive management of OM. As noted in recent guidelines, supportive cancer care is critical for ensuring optimal therapy and for improving the patient's experience.