Photobiomodulation or low-level laser therapy in the management of cancer therapy-induced mucositis, dermatitis and lymphedema

Curr Opin Oncol. 2018 Jul;30(4):226-232. doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000452.


Purpose or review: There is a large body of evidence supporting the efficacy of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) also known as PhotoBioModulation (PBM) when used for the prevention and/or treatment of oral mucositis in patients undergoing radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, or high-dose chemotherapy regimens. This review aims at giving the state of the art of this technique in this indication.

Recent findings: Recent advances in LLLT/PBM technology, together with a better understanding of mechanisms involved and dosimetric parameters may lead to the management of a broader range of complications associated with cancer treatment. This could enhance patient adherence to cancer therapy, and improve quality of life and treatment outcomes.

Summary: The article discusses LLLT/PBM mechanisms of action, dosimetry, and safety, and aims to identify some cancer treatment side-effects for which LLLT/PBM may prove to be effective (oral mucositis, radiation dermatitis, lymphedema). In addition, LLLT/PBM parameters for each of these complications are suggested and future research directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis / etiology
  • Dermatitis / radiotherapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / complications*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / adverse effects
  • Low-Level Light Therapy / methods*
  • Lymphedema / etiology
  • Lymphedema / radiotherapy*
  • Mucositis / etiology
  • Mucositis / radiotherapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic