Pharmacological Modification Of Early Effects

The development of early effects may be reduced by the administration of various medications.


These medications (eg. amifostine) typically function by scavenging free oxygen radicals, preventing fixation of DNA damage through the indirect method. There is conflicting evidence for many of these drugs, although selenium (which stimulates glutathione peroxidise, deactivating free radicals) appears to have a beneficial effect in early mucousitis.

Growth Factors

Growth factors, such as granulocyte colony stimulating factor or keratinocyte stimulating factor, have been shown to reduce or negate the early effects of radiation on their particular tissue types
Alternatively, other growth factors have been shown to contribute to early effects, such as epidermal growth factor receptor or tumour necrosis factor α. Evidence for the use of medications against these targets has been at best inconclusive and at worst harmful.


Glucocorticoids (eg. prednisolone, dexamethasone) are frequently used for symptomatic relief but there is no evidence for alteration in early effects. Non-steroidal medications have been shown to impact on late effects but there is no evidence for early effects. Targeted COX2 inhibitors (eg. celecoxib) have been shown to reduce the early response seen in mouse oral mucosa. Similar responses have been seen with essential fatty acid therapy.