The oral cavity is frequently affected in chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD), with variable clinical presentations. The literature on the effective management of patients suffering from oral cGVHD is limited.
The objective of this study was to assess the clinical approaches used in the diagnosis and treatment of cGVHD in a group of health-care providers specialized in the oral care of oncology patients. The secondary objective was to assess the level of implementation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for cGVHD patients.
One hundred twenty questionnaires were sent to the members of the Oral Care Study Group (OCSG) of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer/International Society of Oral Oncology (MASCC/ISOO). The questionnaire included 50 questions about the responder’s demographics, level of exposure to cGVHD patients, diagnostic and evaluation methods in their practice, preferred treatment strategies for mucosal and salivary gland involvement, and preventive measures.
Twelve responders, representing 12 sites, stated that they treat oral cGVHD patients on a regular basis. This fraction of responders was confirmed by another online survey. Eleven out of the 12 providers were dentists. Seventy-five percent of the providers did not use biopsy in order to diagnose oral cGVHD. The NIH scale for the clinical assessment was used sporadically. The first-line topical treatment for oral mucosal cGVHD was predominantly steroids (91.7 %), and the second preferred treatment was tacrolimus (41.7 %). The preferred treatment for hyposalivation was pilocarpine (41.7 %). The recommended frequency of oral cancer screening varied; half of the providers suggest a follow-up every 6 months.
The responses described the common practices for oral cGVHD in several specialized centers across the world. The choice of topical treatments was influenced by the availability of medications in the provider’s country.