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Oral mucosal injury caused by mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors: emerging perspectives on pathobiology and impact on clinical practice

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In recent years oral mucosal injury has been increasingly recognized as an important toxicity associated with mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors, including in patients with breast cancer who are receiving everolimus. This review addresses the state-of-the-science regarding mTOR inhibitor-associated stomatitis (mIAS), and delineates its clinical characteristics and management. Given the clinically impactful pain associated with mIAS, this review also specifically highlights new research focusing on the study of the molecular basis of pain. The incidence of mIAS varies widely (2-78%). As reported across multiple mTOR inhibitor clinical trials, grade 3/4 toxicity occurs in up to 9% of patients. Managing mTOR-associated oral lesions with topical oral, intralesional, and/or systemic steroids can be beneficial, in contrast to the lack of evidence supporting steroid treatment of oral mucositis caused by high-dose chemotherapy or radiation. However, steroid management is not uniformly efficacious in all patients receiving mTOR inhibitors. Furthermore, technology does not presently exist to permit clinicians to predict a priori which of their patients will develop these lesions. There thus remains a strategic need to define the pathobiology of mIAS, the molecular basis of pain, and risk prediction relative to development of the clinical lesion. This knowledge could lead to novel future interventions designed to more effectively prevent mIAS and improve pain management if clinically significant mIAS lesions develop.

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