Impact of low-level laser therapy on hyposalivation, salivary pH, and quality of life in head and neck cancer patients post-radiotherapy

Lasers Med Sci. 2017 May;32(4):827-832. doi: 10.1007/s10103-017-2180-3. Epub 2017 Mar 3.


Late effects of radiotherapy for head and neck cancer treatment have been increasingly investigated due to its impact on patients' quality of life. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of low-level laser therapy on hyposalivation, low salivary pH, and quality of life in head and neck cancer patients post-radiotherapy. Twenty-nine patients with radiation-induced xerostomia received laser sessions twice a week, during 3 months (24 sessions). For this, a continuous wave Indium-Gallium-Aluminium-Phosphorus diode laser device was used punctually on the major salivary glands (808 nm, 0.75 W/cm2, 30 mW, illuminated area 0.04 cm2, 7.5 J/cm2, 10 s, 0.3 J). Six extraoral points were illuminated on each parotid gland and three on each submandibular gland, as well as two intraoral points on each sublingual gland. Stimulated and unstimulated salivary flow rate, pH (two scales with different gradations), and quality of life (University Of Washington Quality of Life Questionnaire for Patients with Head and Neck Cancer) were assessed at baseline and at the end of the treatment. There were significant increases in both mean salivary flow rates (unstimulated: p = 0.0012; stimulated: p < 0.0001), mean pH values (p = 0.0002 and p = 0.0004), and mean score from the quality of life questionnaire (p < 0.0001). Low-level laser therapy seems to be effective to mitigate salivary hypofunction and increase salivary pH of patients submitted to radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, thereby leading to an improvement in quality of life.

Keywords: Head and neck neoplasms; Low-level light therapy; Radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Xerostomia / radiotherapy*