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Gastrin-17 Predicts Oral Mucositis Severity in Head, Neck Cancer

The study covered in this summary was published on as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.

Key Takeaway

  • Baseline serum gastrin-17 (G-17) levels predict the severity of oral mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer receiving radiotherapy.

Why This Matters

  • Oral mucositis is a common complication of radiotherapy in head and neck cancer.

  • G-17 plays a role in maintaining healthy gastrointestinal mucosa.

  • Low levels before radiotherapy identify patients prone to more severe mucositis, signaling a heightened need for preventative measures and early intervention. 

Study Design

  • Serum G-17 was measured before and after radiotherapy in 42 patients with head and neck cancer.

  • Overall, 23 had low G-17 (baseline serum G-17 < 5 pmol/L), and 19 had high G-17 (baseline serum G-17 ≥ 5 pmol/L).

Key Results

  • In the low group, the incidences of grade 0, 1-2, and 3-4 oral mucositis were 0%, 30.4%, and 69.6%, respectively.

  • In the high group, the incidences of grade 0, 1-2, and 3-4 oral mucositis were 0%, 63.2%, and 36.8%.

  • Serum G-17 correlated negatively with oral mucositis (r = -0.595, P < .01).

  • The incidence of grade 3-4 weight loss was 34.8% in the low G-17 group vs 15.8% in the high group.

  • The median level of serum G-17 was significantly decreased after radiotherapy from 7.29 pmol/L to 4.93 pmol/L.


  • The findings need to be verified and confirmed in larger cohorts.


  • There was no funding for the work, and the investigators reported no competing interests.

This is a summary of a preprint research study, “The Predictive Role of Serum Gastrin-17 for Oral Mucositis in Head and Neck Carcinoma Patients Receiving Radiotherapy,” led by Congye Wu of Nanjing Medical University, China. The study has not been peer reviewed. The full text can be found at

M. Alexander Otto is a physician assistant with a master’s degree in medical science and a journalism degree from Newhouse. He is an award-winning medical journalist who has worked for several major news outlets before joining Medscape and also an MIT Knight Science Journalism fellow. Email: [email protected].

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