Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 1405–1415

Amelioration of oral mucositis pain by NASA near-infrared light-emitting diodes in bone marrow transplant patients

  • Brian D. Hodgson
  • David M. Margolis
  • Donna E. Salzman
  • Dan Eastwood
  • Sergey Tarima
  • Lisa D. Williams
  • Jane E. Sande
  • William P. Vaughan
  • Harry T. Whelan
Original Article



This study seeks to investigate the use of extra-orally applied near-infrared phototherapy for the reduction of oral pain secondary to chemotherapy- and radiation therapy-induced mucositis in adult and pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) patients.


Eighty HSCT patients were divided into regular (R) and low (L) risk groups, then to experimental (E) and placebo (P) groups, resulting in four groups (ER, EL, PR, PL). Experimental subjects received 670 (±10) nm gallium-aluminum-arsinide light-emitting diode device for 80 s at ∼50 mW/cm2 energy density and power exposure of 4 J/cm2. Placebo patients received the same procedures, but with a placebo phototherapy (identical device but <5 mW/cm2 energy density). Patients received their respective light therapy once per day starting on the day of the HSCT (day 0) and continued through day +14. Blinded evaluators examined the patients three times per week and scored their oral tissues and patient-reported pain assessments at each evaluation utilizing the WHO, NCI-CTCAE, and OMAS scales.


Analysis of the mean scores at each observation demonstrate that the extra-oral application of phototherapy resulted in a significant reduction in patient-reported pain between the ER and PR patients (p < 0.05) at day +14 when graded via the WHO criteria. The ER and EL patients were improved in almost all other categories and assessment scales, but the differences were not statistically significant.


Phototherapy demonstrated a significant reduction in patient-reported pain as measured by the WHO criteria in this patient population included in this study. Improvement trends were noted in most other assessment measurements.


Mucositis Low-level laser therapy Photobiomodulation Light therapy Pain control 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian D. Hodgson
    • 1
    • 2
  • David M. Margolis
    • 3
    • 4
  • Donna E. Salzman
    • 5
  • Dan Eastwood
    • 6
  • Sergey Tarima
    • 6
  • Lisa D. Williams
    • 7
  • Jane E. Sande
    • 8
  • William P. Vaughan
    • 9
  • Harry T. Whelan
    • 10
  1. 1.Pediatric DentistryMarquette University School of DentistryMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Clinical Translational Science InstituteMedical College of WisconsinWauwatosaUSA
  3. 3.Pediatric OncologyMedical College of WisconsinWauwatosaUSA
  4. 4.Blood and Marrow TransplantChildren’s Hospital of WisconsinWauwatosaUSA
  5. 5.Education and Clinical Services BMT ProgramUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  6. 6.Division of BiostatisticsMedical College of WisconsinWauwatosaUSA
  7. 7.Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cell Therapy ProgramUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  8. 8.Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, Division of Blood and Marrow TransplantChildren’s National Medical CenterWashingtonUSA
  9. 9.BMT ProgramUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  10. 10.NeurologyMedical College of WisconsinWauwatosaUSA

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