Validation of a new scoring system for the assessment of clinical trial research of oral mucositis induced by radiation or chemotherapy

Stephen T. Sonis, June P. Eilers, Joel B. Epstein, Francis G. LeVeque, William H. Liggett, Mary T. Mulagha, Douglas E. Peterson, Ann H. Rose, Mark M. Schubert, Frederik K. Spijkervet, Janet P. Wittes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

264 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. An impediment to mucositis research has been the lack of an accepted, validated scoring system. The objective of this study was to design, test, and validate a new scoring system for mucositis that can be used easily, is reproducible, and provides an accurate system for research applications. METHODS. A panel of experts, convened to design an objective, simple, and reproducible assessment tool to evaluate mucositis with specific application to multicenter clinical trials, developed a scale that measured objective and subjective indicators of mucositis. Nine centers participated in the study's validation. Paired investigators at each center evaluated patients receiving chemotherapy or head and neck radiation. Objective measures of mucositis evaluated ulceration/pseudomembrane formation and erythema. Subjective outcomes of mouth pain, ability to swallow, and function were measured. Analgesia use for mouth sensitivity was recorded. RESULTS. One hundred eight chemotherapy and 56 radiation therapy patients were evaluated. Seventy-eight percent of chemotherapy patients and 64% of radiation therapy patients had clinically significant mucositis. Cumulative daily mucositis scores demonstrated a high correlation among observers. Using area under the curve analysis, it was found that for chemotherapy patients, the highest correlations (correlation coefficient > 0.92) occurred for the scores that selected the three highest daily values over the course of mucositis assessment. High interobserver correlations were noted for patients receiving radiation therapy. Objective mucositis scores demonstrated strong correlation with symptoms. CONCLUSIONS. The scoring system evaluated was easily used, showed high interobserver reproducibility, was responsive over time, and measured those elements deemed to be associated with mucositis. The use of concomitant symptomatic measurements appeared to be unnecessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2103-2113
Number of pages11
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 1999


  • Assessment
  • Chemotherapy
  • Mucositis
  • Radiation therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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