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Keywords:

  • analgesia;
  • head and neck radiotherapy;
  • oral pain;
  • oncology;
  • wound healing

Abstract

Background and Objective

Oral mucositis is a dose-limiting and painful side effect of radiotherapy (RT) and/or chemotherapy in cancer patients. The purpose of the present study was to analyze the effect of different protocols of laser phototherapy (LPT) on the grade of mucositis and degree of pain in patients under RT.

Patients and Methods

Thirty-nine patients were divided into three groups: G1, where the irradiations were done three times a week using low power laser; G2, where combined high and low power lasers were used three time a week; and G3, where patients received low power laser irradiation once a week. The low power LPT was done using an InGaAlP laser (660 nm/40 mW/6 J cm−2/0.24 J per point). In the combined protocol, the high power LPT was done using a GaAlAs laser (808 nm, 1 W/cm2). Oral mucositis was assessed at each LPT session in accordance to the oral-mucositis scale of the National Institute of the Cancer—Common Toxicity criteria (NIC-CTC). The patient self-assessed pain was measured by means of the visual analogue scale.

Results

All protocols of LPT led to the maintenance of oral mucositis scores in the same levels until the last RT session. Moreover, LPT three times a week also maintained the pain levels. However, the patients submitted to the once a week LPT had significant pain increase; and the association of low/high LPT led to increased healing time.

Conclusions

These findings are desired when dealing with oncologic patients under RT avoiding unplanned radiation treatment breaks and additional hospital costs. Lasers Surg. Med. 41:264–270, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.