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Feasibility of photobiomodulation therapy for the prevention of radiodermatitis: a single-institution pilot study


Acute radiodermatitis is one of the major complications when radiation therapy (RT) is delivered to the head and neck region in cases of head and neck cancers or lung cancers with supraclavicular lymph node metastasis. In these cases, high dose of RT is generally used so that acute radiodermatitis is observed in more than 90% of patients, and it negatively affects patients’ quality of life. In this pilot study, we evaluated the clinical feasibility of photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy before conducting a randomized trial based on the hypothesis that PBM therapy may reduce the severity of radiodermatitis in participants receiving 60 Gy or higher dose. Patients who were to receive 60 Gy or higher dose in the neck were included in the study. Thirty-three patients received PBM therapy three times a week during RT. The severity of radiodermatitis was evaluated by two dermatologists and a radiation oncologist using the modified Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE). Patients were followed up until a week after RT. In all patients, 90.6% of planned PBM schedule was completed. There was no significant side effect of PBM therapy. Thirteen (39%) patients showed wet desquamation (CTCAE grade 2b or higher). Only three (9%) of them showed grade 3 toxicity, which is a favorable result compared with previous studies. This pilot study showed that PBM therapy is safe and feasible in the clinic, and it might reduce the severity of radiodermatitis. A randomized trial should be warranted to prove the efficacy of PBM therapy.

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Radiation therapy




Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events


Body mass index




Concurrent chemoradiotherapy




Randomized controlled trial


Radiation Treatment Oncology Group


National Cancer Institute- Common Toxicity Criteria


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This research is funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017M2A2A7A02018569).

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Authors and Affiliations



Ji-Hye Park contributed to the analysis of data and drafted the manuscript. Hyun Jeong Byun, Jong-Hee Lee, Haeyoung Kim, Jae Myung Noh, Cho Rok Kim, and Dongryul Oh contributed to the data collection and analysis of data. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Dongryul Oh.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The ethical committees of Samsung Medical Center approved this study (approval number: 2017-02-152). The study was registered at the Clinical Research Information Service (trial registration: CRIS, KCT0002706, Registered 23 February 2018- Retrospectively registered, Only participants who signed the written informed consent form were enrolled in the study.

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Park, JH., Byun, H.J., Lee, J.H. et al. Feasibility of photobiomodulation therapy for the prevention of radiodermatitis: a single-institution pilot study. Lasers Med Sci 35, 1119–1127 (2020).

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  • Neck
  • Photobiomodulation therapy
  • Prevention
  • Radiodermatitis