Eastman Dental Institute


Tackling fibrosis of the neck and mouth

Professor Stefano Fedele

In UK there are around 10,000 new head and neck cancer (HNC) cases each year. Following radiotherapy, approximately 4,200 of these individuals will experience fibrosis - a common, permanent and adverse effect of the treatment. 

Fibrosis is characterised by a hardening of mouth muscles, including those of the back of the mouth and throat. It restricts mouth opening and reduces the ability to talk, chew and swallow, which can severely impact quality of life. It can also cause malnutrition and pneumonia due to the entry of food and liquids in the respiratory tract, which can increase mortality.

HNC survivors who have defeated their cancers are often left with this chronic condition caused by their life-saving, anti-cancer therapy and there is no realistic therapeutic option, no intervention that has proven to be effective in the long-term.

Our three-year ‘PIT-STOP’ trial will specifically look at the effect of combining two medications, Pentoxifylline and Vitamin E, in order to reduce soft tissue fibrosis of the mouth and throat in head and neck cancer (HNC) survivors.

Co-administration of Pentoxifylline and Vitamin E has had promising results in individuals irradiated to the breast, pelvis, lung, and prostate.

The team hope that it could also reverse or reduce fibrosis in HNC survivors. 


Recruitment of 40 participants in London and Liverpool, began and proceeded on schedule but has been temporarily paused due to Covid-19 restrictions.