Could the biological robustness of low level laser therapy (Photobiomodulation) impact its use in the management of mucositis in head and neck cancer patients

Oral Oncol. 2016 Mar:54:7-14. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2016.01.005. Epub 2016 Feb 3.


Low level laser therapy (LLLT) has been noted to be effective in mitigating the development of oral mucositis among patients being treated with chemoradiation for cancers of the head and neck. To explain the biological basis for this observation we performed a comprehensive literature search. Our investigation identified a substantial number of LLLT-activated pathways that have been strongly associated with negative tumor outcomes including proliferation, invasion, angiogenesis, metastases and cancer-treatment resistance. In light of these findings, we suggest an investigational strategy to assure that LLLT's anti-mucositis efficacy is independent of its possible potential to enhance threatening tumor behaviors. Included are appropriate pre-clinical modeling, short- and long-term follow-up of LLLT-treated patients, and the requirement for consistency of LLLT parameters.

Keywords: Head and neck cancer; Low level laser therapy; Oral mucositis; Photobiomodulation; Radioprotection; Tumor behavior.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemoradiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / complications
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Radiation Injuries / radiotherapy*
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects
  • Stomatitis / metabolism*
  • Stomatitis / radiotherapy*
  • Treatment Outcome