Photobiomodulation therapy in management of cancer therapy-induced side effects: WALT position paper 2022


Objective: This position paper reviews the potential prophylactic and therapeutic effects of photobiomodulation (PBM) on side effects of cancer therapy, including chemotherapy (CT), radiation therapy (RT), and hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).

Background: There is a considerable body of evidence supporting the efficacy of PBM for preventing oral mucositis (OM) in patients undergoing RT for head and neck cancer (HNC), CT, or HSCT. This could enhance patients’ quality of life, adherence to the prescribed cancer therapy, and treatment outcomes while reducing the cost of cancer care.

Methods: A literature review on PBM effectiveness and dosimetry considerations for managing certain complications of cancer therapy were conducted. A systematic review was conducted when numerous randomized controlled trials were available. Results were presented and discussed at an international consensus meeting at the World Association of photobiomodulation Therapy (WALT) meeting in 2018 that included world expert oncologists, radiation oncologists, oral oncologists, and oral medicine professionals, physicists, engineers, and oncology researchers. The potential mechanism of action of PBM and evidence of PBM efficacy through reported outcomes for individual indications were assessed.

Results: There is a large body of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of PBM for preventing OM in certain cancer patient populations, as recently outlined by the Multinational Association for Supportive Care in Cancer/International Society of Oral Oncology (MASCC/ISOO). Building on these, the WALT group outlines evidence and prescribed PBM treatment parameters for prophylactic and therapeutic use in supportive care for radiodermatitis, dysphagia, xerostomia, dysgeusia, trismus, mucosal and bone necrosis, lymphedema, hand-foot syndrome, alopecia, oral and dermatologic chronic graft-versus host disease, voice/speech alterations, peripheral neuropathy, and late fibrosis amongst cancer survivors.

Conclusions: There is robust evidence for using PBM to prevent and treat a broad range of complications in cancer care. Specific clinical practice guidelines or evidence-based expert consensus recommendations are provided. These recommendations are aimed at improving the clinical utilization of PBM therapy in supportive cancer care and promoting research
in this field. It is anticipated these guidelines will be revised periodically.

Read more and access the PDF here. »

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Efficacy of photobiomodulation in reducing pain and improving the quality of life in patients with idiopathic burning mouth syndrome. A systematic review and meta-analysis

February 5, 2022

Burning mouth syndrome is a chronic condition, which is characterised by a burning sensation or pain in the mucosa of the oral cavity. Treatment options include antidepressants, antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, analgesics, hormone replacement therapies and more recently photobiomodulation. This study aims to perform a systematic review with meta-analysis in order to determine the effect of photobiomodulation on pain relief and the oral health-related quality of life associated with this condition. A bibliographical search of the Pubmed, Embase, Web of Science and Scopus databases was conducted. Only randomised clinical trials were included. Pain and quality of life were calculated as mean difference and pooled at different treatment points (baseline = T0 and final time point = Tf) and laser modality. From a total of 103 records, 7 articles were retrieved for inclusion. PBM group had a greater decrease in pain than control group at Tf with a mean difference =  − 2.536 (IC 95% − 3.662 to − 1.410; I2 = 85.33%, p < 0.001). An improvement in oral health-related quality of life was observed in both groups, although this was more significant in the photobiomodulation group mean difference =  − 5.148 (IC 95% − 8.576 to − 1.719; I2 = 84.91%, p = 0.003). For the red laser, a greater improvement than infrared was observed, in pain, mean difference =  − 2.498 (IC 95% − 3.942 to − 1.053; I2 = 79.93%, p < 0.001), and in quality of life, mean difference =  − 8.144 (IC 95% − 12.082 to − 4.206; I2 = 64.22%, p = 0.027). Photobiomodulation, in particular, red laser protocols, resulted in improvement in pain and in quality of life of burning mouth syndrome patients.



Photobiomodulation Therapy in the Treatment of Oral Mucositis, Dysphagia, Oral Dryness, Taste Alteration, and Burning Mouth Sensation Due to Cancer Therapy: A Case Series


Oral complications of cancer therapy, such as oral dryness, dysphagia, and taste alteration, are associated with a negative impact in the quality of life of the patients. Few supportive care measures are available for such complications. This case series reveals the effectiveness of the photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy when used in a specific protocol and parameters, in the management of oral complications related to cancer therapy.

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Shining a Light on Mucositis

A new study conducted by St. Jude Nursing Research uses a painless therapy to help children avoid a common side effect of bone marrow transplantation.

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Photo by Justin Veneman.

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Cost-effectiveness of photobiomodulation therapy for the prevention and management of cancer treatment toxicities: a systematic review

To identify and summarize the evidence on the cost-effectiveness of photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy for the prevention and treatment of cancer treatment-related toxicities.

This systematic review was performed according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta- Analyses statement (PRISMA) and Meta-analysis Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE). Scopus, MEDLINE/PubMed, and Embase were searched electronically.

A total of 1490 studies were identified, and after a two-step review, 4 articles met the inclusion criteria. The included studies analyzed the cost effectiveness of PBM therapy used in the context of lymphedema for breast cancer and oral mucositis (OM) induced by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Better outcomes were associated with PBM therapy. The incremental costeffectiveness ratio ranged from 3050.75 USD to 5592.10 USD per grade 3–4 OMcase prevented. PBM therapy cost 21.47 USD per percentage point reduction in lymphedema in comparison with 80.51 USD for manual lymph drainage and physical therapy.

There is limited evidence that PBM therapy is cost-effective in the prevention and treatment of specific cancer treatment-related toxicities, namely, OM and breast cancer-related lymphedema. Studies may have underreported the benefits due to a lack of a comprehensive cost evaluation. This suggests a wider acceptance of PBM therapy at cancer treatment centers, which has thus far been limited by the number of robust clinical studies that demonstrate cost-effectiveness for the prevention and treatment of toxicities.


Low-Level Laser Therapy in the Prevention and Treatment of Oral Mucositis


The aim of this study was to determine whether prophylactic and therapeutic low-level laser therapy (LLLT), compared with placebo or no therapy, reduced the risk of severe oral mucositis (OM) in patients receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy.


We searched for articles published on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, and Clinical Trials, until December 2018. RCTs were filtered on the basis of eligibility criteria, and data were analyzed by using R software 3.5.2.


Safety and efficacy of photobiomodulation therapy in oncology: A systematic review


We performed a systematic review of the current literature addressing the safety and efficacy of photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) in cancer patients.

Cancer Medicine


National Institute for Health Research (NIHR-UK) funded RCT on the Clinical and Cost Effectiveness of Low-Level Laser in the Management of Oral Mucositis in Head and Neck Cancer Irradiation, 10 NHS hospitals, 380 patients in progress.

LiTEFORM is a Randomised Controlled Trial of the Clinical and Cost Effectiveness of Low Level Laser in the Management of Oral Mucositis in Head and Neck Cancer Irradiation



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Cost-effectiveness randomized clinical trial on the effect of photobiomodulation therapy for prevention of radiotherapy-induced severe oral mucositis in a Brazilian cancer hospital setting

This study aimed to assess the cost-effectiveness of photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) in association with a Preventive Oral Care Program (POCP) compared with POCP alone in the treatment of radiotherapy (RT)-induced oral mucositis (OM).

The cost-effectiveness was evaluated from the health provider perspective and conducted alongside a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. Participants were randomly assigned to either PBMT (n = 25) or control (n = 23) group. The PBMT group participants received PBMT associated with POCP. In the control group, patients were submitted to POCP alone. Costs were identified, quantified, and valued through observation and consultation of the hospital’s financial sector database and estimated in Brazilian real and converted to international dollars using the purchasing power parity exchange rate. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was estimated by considering the prevention of severe OM, interruption of RT, and oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) scores, measured by the OHIP-14 and patient-reported OM symptoms scale (PROMS).


Light therapy could replace opioids as main treatment for cancer treatment side effect

Light therapy could replace opioids as main treatment for cancer treatment side effect

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A worldwide coalition of researchers and clinicians has agreed that light therapy is among the most effective interventions for the prevention of oral mucositis, painful ulcers in the mouth resulting from cancer therapy.

University of Buffalo News Center