Background: Oral mucositis (OM) is one of the most frequent complications of chemotherapy for which there is no standard therapy; treatment is mostly conservative. This study was conducted to determine whether low-intensity laser therapy (LLLT) can reduce the duration of chemotherapy-induced OM.
Procedure: A placebo-controlled randomized trial was carried out using LLLT or placebo (sham treatment). Children and adolescents with cancer receiving chemotherapy or hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation between October 2005 and May 2006 were eligible as soon as they developed OM. Patients received intervention for 5 days. The LLLT group was treated with laser GaAlAs, wavelength (lambda): 830 nm (infrared), power: 100 mW, dose: 4 J/cm, and placebo group underwent sham treatment. The grade of OM was clinically assessed by the National Cancer Institute, Common Toxicity Criteria scale.
Results: Twenty-one patients developed OM and were evaluable for analysis; 18 (86%) patients had a diagnosis of leukemia or lymphoma and 3(14%) had solid tumors. The mean age was 8.2 (+/-3.1) years. Nine patients were randomized in the laser group and 12 in the placebo-control group. Once OM was diagnosed, the patients had daily OM grading assessments before laser or sham application and thereafter until complete healing of the lesions. On day 7 after OM diagnosis, 1/9 of patients remained with lesions in laser group and 9/12 of patients in the placebo-control group (P=0.029). In the laser group, the mean of OM duration was 5.8+/-2 days and in the placebo group was 8.9+/-2.4 days (P=0.004).
Conclusions: Our study has shown evidence that laser therapy in addition to oral care can decrease the duration of chemotherapy-induced OM. Our results confirm the promising results observed in adult cancer patients and should encourage pediatric oncologists to use laser therapy as first-line option in children with chemotherapy-induced OM.