New light therapy helps to ease pain for head and neck cancer patients

Patient Glenn Martin with interim head & neck CNS Jenny Gale and radiotherapy sister Helen Longman discussing THOR LX2 Oral Max equipment.

Cancer patients are benefiting from a new light therapy treatment which tackles a common side effect caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Photobiomodulation (PBM) has launched in hospitals run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) to prevent or treat oral mucositis. It occurs when cancer treatments damage the lining of the mouth. This can leave the tissue vulnerable to ulceration and infection.

All head and neck cancer patients having radiotherapy are being offered PBM at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.

The treatments are being overseen by Jenny Gale, radiotherapy sister at Colchester, and Lyndsey Rew Macmillan specialist radiographer at Ipswich.

Jenny is also interim head and neck clinical nurse specialist at ESNEFT. She has had radiotherapy treatment herself so is able to relate to what her patients are feeling and the benefits PBM will bring for them.

She said: “It can really make your mouth sore. It hurts to swallow too which can make eating and drinking difficult, as well as having an impact on your general wellbeing.

“Unlike the side effects, PBM is completely painless. It’s very simple to carry out so most patients can do it themselves and take control of their treatment which is amazing.

“Evidence shows patients need less pain relief when they’ve had PBM, and they generally cope with their treatment better. It’s really exciting that we are offering it in our hospitals now.”

PBM works by applying infrared light to tissue, via two probes, which can reduce inflammation and improve healing.

Funding for two Thor laser machines, one at Colchester Hospital and the other at Ipswich Hospital, was provided thanks to a £31,000 grant from Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity.

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3 Responses to New light therapy helps to ease pain for head and neck cancer patients

  1. Virginia Rinkel says:

    This is wonderful and so helpful in healing, I’m sure. That machine will do wonders!!

  2. Rita newman says:

    Does this help with pain soreness eating etc etc after radiotherapy has finished

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