Purpose: To evaluate the efficiency of Helium-Neon (He-Ne) laser in the prevention of oral mucositis induced by high dose chemoradiotherapy before autologous bone marrow transplantation (BMT).
Methods and materials: Between 1993 and 1995, 30 consecutive patients receiving an autologous peripheral stem-cell or bone marrow transplant (BMT) after high dose chemoradiotherapy were randomized to possibly receive prophylactic laser to the oral mucosa after giving informed consent. Chemotherapy consisted of cyclophosphamide, 60 mg/kg intravenously (I.V.) on day (d)-5 and d-4 in 27 cases, or melphalan 140 mg/kg I.V. on d-4 in three cases. Total body irradiation (TBI) consisted of 12 Gy midplane dose in six fractions (4 Gy/day for three days). He-Ne laser (632.8 nm wavelength, power 60 mW) applications were performed daily from d-5 to d-1 on five anatomic sites of the oral mucosa. Oral examination was performed daily from d0 to d + 20. Mucositis was scored according to an oral exam guide with a 16 item scale of which four were assessed by the patients themselves. Mean daily self assessment scores for oral pain, ability to swallow and oral dryness were measured. A daily mucositis index (DMI) and a cumulative oral mucositis score (COMS) were established. Requirement for narcotics and parenteral nutrition was recorded.
Results: The COMS was significantly reduced among laser treated (L+) patients (p = 0.04). The improvement of DMI in L+ patients was also statistically significant (p < 0.05) from d + 2 to d + 7. Occurrence and duration of grade III oral mucositis were reduced in L+ patients (p = 0.01). Laser applications reduced oral pain as assessed by patients (p = 0.05) and L+ patients required less morphine (p = 0.05). Xerostomia and ability to swallow were improved among the L+ patients (p = 0.005 and p = 0.01, respectively). Requirement for parenteral nutrition was not reduced (p = NS).
Conclusion: Helium-Neon laser treatment was well tolerated, feasible in all cases, and reduced high dose chemoradiotherapy-induced oral mucositis. Optimal laser treatment schedules still needs to be defined.