• Cancer

    Consumer Health: Coping with mouth sores caused by cancer treatment

a close-up of a woman in a brightly colored headscarf, looking off into the distance

Certain cancer treatments can cause mouth sores that can be painful and distressing. They also can make it difficult for your mouth to heal itself and fend off germs, leading to infections.

Chemotherapy and radiation — alone or combined — can cause mouth sores. That's because these cancer treatments are intended to kill rapidly growing cells, such as cancer cells. Some healthy cells in your body also divide and grow rapidly, including the cells that line the inside of your mouth. Unfortunately, these healthy cells also are damaged by chemotherapy and radiation.

These mouth sores can range from an inconvenience to a severe complication that can make you unable to continue your cancer treatment. Although there's no guaranteed way to prevent mouth sores, you can reduce your risk. Treatment involves minimizing your pain until the cells of your mouth heal and begin regenerating after your cancer treatment ends.

Learn more about preventing and coping with mouth sores caused by cancer treatment.

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