Photobiomodulation therapy for the management of radiation-induced dermatitis : A single-institution experience of adjuvant radiotherapy in breast cancer patients after breast conserving surgery

Strahlenther Onkol. 2017 Jun;193(6):491-498. doi: 10.1007/s00066-017-1117-x. Epub 2017 Feb 27.


Background: Radiation therapy (RT) comprises a key component in the treatment of breast cancer. Radiation-induced skin toxicity is the major adverse event experienced by patients; however, radiodermatitis (RD) prevention and management remains trivial. It is proven that photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy using light-emitting diode (LED) increases wound healing and depicts an anti-inflammatory effect. This single-institute study evaluates the beneficial role of PBM-LED in preventing/reducing RD during breast cancer RT.

Patients and methods: Of 70 consecutively treated patients, 25 patients were treated with PBM-LED twice a week prior to adjuvant 3D conformal RT after breast-conserving surgery. RD was reported using Common Toxicity Criteria for Adverse Events Version 4.0 and pain intensity using a visual analog scale (VAS). For comparison, a control group (n = 45) received RT without PBM-LED. In addition, a "matched" group (n = 25) was generated from the control group based on propensity for potentially confounding variables.

Results: In the PBM group, 22 patients (88%) presented grade 1 and 3 (12%) grade 2 RD. In the control group, 25 patients (55.6%) developed grade 1 reactions, 18 patients (40%) grade 2, and 2 (4.4%) patients grade 3 RD. Concerning pain intensity, 15 patients (60%) of the PBM treatment arm reported no pain, 5 patients (20%) VAS 2, and 5 (20%) VAS 3. In the control group, 13 patients (28.9%) reported no pain, 2 (4.4%) VAS 1, 7 (15.6%) VAS 2, 9 patients (20%) reported VAS 3, 12 (26.7%) patients VAS 4, and 2 (4.4%) patients VAS 5.

Conclusion: PBM-LED therapy applied prior to RT might be effective in decreasing the incidence and sequelae of radiation-induced skin toxicity in breast cancer patients treated with breast-conserving surgery.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Light-emitting diode (LED); Photobiomodulation; Radiation therapy; Radiodermatitis.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Mastectomy, Segmental*
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiodermatitis / radiotherapy*
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant*
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal*
  • Treatment Outcome