The use of low-level light therapy in supportive care for patients with breast cancer: review of the literature

Lasers Med Sci. 2017 Jan;32(1):229-242. doi: 10.1007/s10103-016-2056-y. Epub 2016 Aug 19.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, with an incidence of 1.7 million in 2012. Breast cancer and its treatments can bring along serious side effects such as fatigue, skin toxicity, lymphedema, pain, nausea, etc. These can substantially affect the patients' quality of life. Therefore, supportive care for breast cancer patients is an essential mainstay in the treatment. Low-level light therapy (LLLT) also named photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) has proven its efficiency in general medicine for already more than 40 years. It is a noninvasive treatment option used to stimulate wound healing and reduce inflammation, edema, and pain. LLLT is used in different medical settings ranging from dermatology, physiotherapy, and neurology to dentistry. Since the last twenty years, LLLT is becoming a new treatment modality in supportive care for breast cancer. For this review, all existing literature concerning the use of LLLT for breast cancer was used to provide evidence in the following domains: oral mucositis (OM), radiodermatitis (RD), lymphedema, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), and osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). The findings of this review suggest that LLLT is a promising option for the management of breast cancer treatment-related side effects. However, it still remains important to define appropriate treatment and irradiation parameters for each condition in order to ensure the effectiveness of LLLT.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Low-level light therapy; Oncology; Photobiomodulation therapy; Supportive care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / adverse effects
  • Lymphedema / etiology
  • Radiodermatitis / etiology
  • Stomatitis / etiology