Scientists have said that light therapy is the most effective intervention against cancer therapy side effects. According to an international coalition of researchers and clinicians, light therapy is among the most effective interventions for the prevention of oral mucositis, painful ulcers in the mouth resulting from cancer therapy.
The proposal comes in the form of new guidelines published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer. The new guidelines present a significant upgrade in care guidelines for adult cancer patients worldwide. The guidelines recommend photobiomodulation therapy, a form of low-dose light therapy, for the prevention of oral mucositis caused by radiation therapy for head and neck cancer or stem cell transplantation.
Multiple studies have found that patients report oral mucositis as the worst side effect of their cancer treatment. Pain from the condition can slow or delay cancer treatment, and in severe cases require hospitalization.
Light therapies have existed for decades, but improvements in the technology have made the treatment more affordable for wider use. At a high power, light, often in the form of a laser, is used in medicine to cut or destroy tissue. But at a low power, it has the ability to relieve pain or inflammation and promote healing.
The treatment is rising in use across Europe, Brazil, India, Canada and several other nations. The findings provide an upgrade to previous guidelines published in 2013, which noted the effectiveness of light therapy and recommended, based on relatively limited evidence at that time, the intervention as an optional therapy in specific cancer patient populations and settings.
The therapy could potentially serve as an alternative to opioids, often prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of oral mucositis.