Caphosol For Prevention and Treatment of Mouth Sores

Caphosol for Mucositis During Cancer Chemotherapy

mouth ulcers from chemotherapy
What is Caphosol and how is it used to treat mouth sores from chemotherapy?. Istockphoto.com/Stock Photo©Srisakern

If your oncologist has recommended Caphosol mouth rinse during chemotherapy, what do you need to know? How does Caphosol work, what side effects may occur, and what precautions should you take?

What Is Caphosol?

Caphosol is a mouth rinse that is used to prevent and treat oral mucositis. This solution combines a phosphate solution with a calcium solution and purified water to form a fluid that is rich in calcium and phosphate ions.

The goal of treatment is to have Caphosol solution lubricate your oral tissues (mucosa) and soak into any mouth sores, reducing inflammation and encouraging healing. Caphosol is not a painkiller (analgesic) but may reduce pain by softening and cleansing dry mouth tissues.

Generic Name: Artificial Saliva Solution

Caphosol Use For Breast Cancer

Mucositis, or mouth sores, are a common side effect of chemotherapy for breast cancer. Mouth sores occur when the rapidly-dividing cells of the mucous membranes lining your mouth are attacked by chemotherapy drugs. Chemotherapy, while helpful for treating cancer, is toxic to any rapidly dividing cells. 

Mouth sores may occur on your mouth and your tongue (oral mucositis,) and also further down in your digestive tract in your esophagus and intestines. These mouth sores can be painful and often limit the foods you are able to eat.

During chemotherapy, you might be asked to suck on ice chips or a popsicle while you have your chemotherapy infusion.

The purpose of this is to decrease the size and number of mouth sores you develop.

Most of the time mouth sores are more of a nuisance than a problem, but when they are severe, they can limit your eating and lead to poor nutrition at a time when you need the best nutrition possible. This may be amplified if you have also developed taste changes due to chemotherapy.

Sometimes, mouth sores can become secondarily infected with either bacteria or yeast (oral thrush.) If this occurs, your oncologist will likely prescribe an antibiotic or antifungal medication.

How Caphosol Works To Relieve Oral Mucositis

Caphosol is an electrolyte solution made of sodium phosphate, calcium chloride, sodium chloride, and purified water. The solution must be mixed just before each dose to make sure the phosphate and calcium ions don't separate and become ineffective. Once mixed, Caphosol soaks into the tissues of your tongue, gums, hard and soft palette, restoring moisture into the cells, and lubricating sores and scratchy areas. It is thought that the calcium ions help reduce inflammation and improve circulation as well as promote healing. The phosphate ions may aid in the healing of mouth sores.

How Caphosol Is Packaged

Caphosol comes in a box of 30 doses, which you use at home. The doses are packed as two different solutions, Caphosol A and Caphosol B. You will mix these immediately before using the solution as a mouth rinse. This product can be kept at room temperature; it doesn't have to be refrigerated.

How to Use Caphosol

Follow these steps in order to use Caphosol most effectively:

  • Plan the timing of your dose so that you won't be eating or drinking anything for at least 15 minutes after you use Caphosol. This helps prevent dilution of the solution and gives it time to soak into dry mouth tissues.
  • Separate one blue container (Caphosol A) and one clear container (Caphosol B) from those in the pack of 30 doses.
  • Remove the caps from the blue and clear containers, and empty the contents together into a clean glass. Do not add water or any other fluid.
  • Swirl the glass of Caphosol around gently to mix the two solutions.
  • Immediately after mixing, use Caphosol as a mouth rinse.
  • Pour half of the solution into your mouth, then swish and gargle with it for one full minute. Do not swallow Caphosol.
  • Spit out the solution, and repeat your swish and gargle with the second half. Again, do not swallow Caphosol, but spit it out.
  • Do not eat or drink for the next 15 minutes.
  • Use Caphosol four times a day for relief of mucositis.

Side Effects of Caphosol

Unlike the majority of treatments used for cancer, research and testing have found no notable side effects or interactions of Caphosol and other drugs or oral products.

Precautions For Using Caphosol

Caphosol works best if you use it according to the instructions on the package. This includes:

  • Not eating or drinking for 15 minutes after using Caphosol solution.
  • Talking to your doctor about using a smaller dose of Caphosol if you are on a low-sodium diet.
  • Letting your doctor know if your mucositis increases or the pain from mouth sores or dry tissues continues. At times, your oncologist may recommend using a higher dose or more frequent doses of Caphosol.
  • Keeping this and all other medications out of the reach of children.

Special Notes About Caphosol

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved Caphosol, but they are studying it and comparing it to similar artificial saliva solutions. Studies looking at the effect of Caphosol for the prevention and treatment of mouth sores during chemotherapy have been mixed. It appears to work better with the type of chemotherapy used for breast cancer than with the high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplants used for blood-related cancers.

Caphosol is made in Germany by Cytogen and can be prescribed for patients in the United States.

Bottom Line on Caphosol for Treatment and Prevention of Mouth Sores

Mouth sores can not only be uncomfortable during cancer treatment but can interfere with your ability to eat and get the nutrition you need. Caphosol appears to reduce the pain associated with mouth sores without any significant side effects or interactions. With any type of treatment, it's important to talk to your oncologist first. She many also have additional thoughts on how to improve your comfort during chemotherapy. Take a moment to also check out these tips on coping and eating with mouth sores during chemotherapy.

Sources:

Quinn, B. Efficacy of a Supersaturated Calcium Phosphate Oral Rinse for the Prevention and Treatment of Oral Mucositis in Patients Receiving High-Dose Cancer Therapy: A Review of Current Data. European Journal of Cancer Care. 2013. 22(5):564-79.

Treister N., Nieder, M., Baggott, C. et al. Caphosol for Prevention of Oral Mucositis in Pediatric Myeloablative Haematopoietic Cell Transplantation. British Journal of Cancer. 2017. 116(1):21-27.

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