JUL 12, 2019 7:51 AM PDT

Will Light Therapy Edge Out Opioids for Cancer Mouth Pain?

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Photobiomodulation therapy, a form of low-dose light therapy, has now been found to be one of the best ways to treat the pain of oral mucositis, the mouth sores that can accompany cancer therapies. These ulcers are so unpleasant and painful that they can sometimes delay the progression of cancer treatment or require hospitalization on their own.


The latest (July 2019) guidelines from the International Society of Oral Oncology (ISOO) and Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) were shared in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer. They recommend low-dose light therapy to prevent oral mucositis brought on by stem cell transplants or radiation therapy for neck and head cancer, with or without chemo. According to the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, these new recommendations update the earlier guidelines from 2013, which recommended light therapy “as an optional therapy in specific cancer patient populations and settings.” For this light therapy, there were no major short-term side effects reported. To reach these findings, a team of global experts sorted hundreds of research papers and then reviewed select dozens of studies.


collage, mouth and reflecting light

“This is a major milestone for the field, and 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,” Dr. Praveen Arany, assistant professor of oral biology at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine and co-corresponding author on the paper, said. Arany is president of the World Association for photobiomoduLation Therapy (WALT). Arany also noted that photobiomodulation therapy might be an alternative for opioids, which are often prescribed for oral mucositis. A 2018 congressional hearing before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee invited a panel of experts to discuss photobiomodulation’s potential in health care and as a way to counter opioid dependence.

Learn more in the video below.



Article source: University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
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