Beneficial Effects of Adjuvant Melatonin in Minimizing Oral Mucositis Complications in Head and Neck Cancer Patients Receiving Concurrent Chemoradiation

Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials
Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (new york, N.Y.)
Publication date:
01 January 2017


OBJECTIVES: Oral mucositis is a major cause of pain and delayed cancer treatment leading to poor survival in head and neck cancer patients receiving concurrent chemoradiation. The study evaluated the effect of adjuvant melatonin on minimizing oral mucositis complications to reduce these treatment delays and interruptions. // DESIGN: A randomized, double-blind, double dummy, placebo-controlled clinical trial. // SETTING: Ubon Ratchathani Cancer Hospital, Thailand. // PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-nine head and neck cancer patients receiving concurrent chemoradiation (5 days/week of radiation plus chemotherapy three or six cycles). // METHODS: Patients were randomized to receive 20mg melatonin gargle (or matched placebo) before each irradiation, and 20mg melatonin capsules (or matched placebo) taken nightly during 7 weeks of concurrent chemoradiation. Endpoints were oral mucositis events (incidence and time to grade 3 mucositis or grade 2 xerostomia), pain medication consumption and quality of life (QOL). // RESULTS: Melatonin group reported lower incidence of grade 3 oral mucositis (42% vs. 55%) and grade 2 xerostomia (20% vs. 21%); no statistical significance was detected. Melatonin regimen delayed onset of grade 3 mucositis (median 34 days vs. 50 days; p=0.0318), allowing median time of 16 more patient visits before its onset and fewer interrupted treatments due to oral mucositis were reported (n=1 vs. n=5). There was no difference of grade 2 xerostomia (median 32 days vs. 50 days; p=0.624). Morphine consumption was also reduced (median 57mg vs. 0mg; p=0.0342), while QOL was comparable during the study period. // CONCLUSION: Adjuvant melatonin delayed the onset of oral mucositis, which enables uninterrupted cancer treatment and reduced the amount of morphine used for pain treatment.