Background: Objective was to determine whether prophylactic low level laser therapy (LLLT) reduces the risk of severe mucositis as compared to placebo or no therapy.
Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched until February 2014 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing prophylactic LLLT with placebo or no therapy in patients with cancer or undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). All analyses used random effects models.
Results: Eighteen RCTs (1144 patients) were included. Prophylactic LLLT reduced the overall risk of severe mucositis (risk ratio (RR) 0.37, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.20 to 0.67; P = 0.001). LLLT also reduced the following outcomes when compared to placebo/no therapy: severe mucositis at the time of anticipated maximal mucositis (RR 0.34, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.59), overall mean grade of mucositis (standardized mean difference -1.49, 95% CI -2.02 to -0.95), duration of severe mucositis (weighted mean difference -5.32, 95% CI -9.45 to -1.19) and incidence of severe pain (RR 0.26, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.37).
Conclusion: Prophylactic LLLT reduced severe mucositis and pain in patients with cancer and HSCT recipients. Future research should identify the optimal characteristics of LLLT and determine feasibility in the clinical setting.