Experts Find Light Therapy Most Effective Treatment for Cancer Adverse Events


Photobiomodulation therapy found effective for the prevention of oral mucositis caused by radiation therapy.

A coalition of investigators and clinicians were in agreement that light therapy is among the most effective interventions for the prevention of oral mucositis, or painful ulcers in the mouth, resulting from cancer therapy. The new guidelines come from the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) and the International Society of Oral Oncology (ISOO).

Published in the journal of Supportive Care in Cancer, the guidelines recommend photobiomodulation therapy, a form of low-dose light therapy, for the prevention of oral mucositis caused by radiation treatments. Oral mucositis is often cited as the worst adverse event of cancer treatment by numerous patients.

The review was led by Zadik Yehuda, DMD, senior lecturer at the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine in Jerusalem, Israel, and Sharon Elad, DMD, chair of the MASCC/ISOO Mucositis Study Group. Along with 14 other global experts, they triaged hundreds of research papers published on photobiomodulation therapy for oral mucositis.

According to Praveen Arany, DDS, PhD, co-corresponding author, the guidelines which recommend photobiomodulation therapy represent a major milestone for the field.

“We are confident it will set a clear path for several exciting clinical applications for photobiomodulation therapy from concussions and wound healing to exciting new work with regenerative medicine and stem cells,” Arany said in a press release.

Light therapies have existed for decades, but improvements in the technology have made the treatment more affordable for wider use. At low power, it has the ability to relieve pain or inflammation and promote healing, according to the study.

Among other findings, the investigators identified 5 new protocols, recommending light therapy for the prevention of oral mucositis in stem cell transplant patients, and patients with head and neck cancer who are receiving radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy. No major short-term adverse effects of light therapy were reported.

The therapy could potentially serve as an alternative to opioids, often prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of oral mucositis, said Arany.

Future studies are needed to verify the effectiveness of light therapy in managing oral mucositis in pediatric cancer patients and in adult cancer patients receiving only chemotherapy, the authors concluded.


  • Systematic review of photobiomodulation for the management of oral mucositis in cancer patients and clinical practice guidelines. SpringerLink website. Published July 8, 2019. Accessed July 16, 2019.

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