Oral mucositis is one of the most debilitating side effects of chemotherapy and radiation in patients with head and neck cancer or who require stem cell therapy and whole-body irradiation. Nearly 100 percent of these patients experience some level of oral mucositis, which causes inflammatory sores in the mouth, pain and difficulty eating.
In fact, the effect of oral mucositis is so debilitating that some patients opt to reduce their cancer treatment doses. No therapy has been effective in reducing pain and inflammation related to this disorder, until now.
According to a pilot project presented at the Oncology Nursing Society 40th Annual Congress in Orlando, Florida, nearly 100 percent of patients in the small study who received low-level laser therapy during cancer treatment avoided developing oral mucositis.
The therapy has long been used in Europe and South America for the disorder, and researchers hope to promote its use in the U.S.
Spa-like treatment with a cool, low-level laser, similar to that use for wrinkles, vanquishes oral mucositis, one of the most debilitating toxicities of cancer therapy.
"I have been an oncology nurse for over 25 years, and in those 25 years, there has been nothing that helps prevent or is effective against the treatment for oral mucositis, until now," said Annette Quinn, RN, MSN, from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.
"Patients say they rank it higher than nausea and vomiting when it comes to adverse side effects, especially because we have good medications to control nausea and vomiting. But the low-level laser works better than we could have hoped," Quinn told Medscape Medical News.
This article excerpt, by Medscape Medical News, originally appeared here: www.medscape.com/viewarticle/844071 (login required).
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