A new era of cancer treatment just dawned, giving hope to America's 15.5 million cancer survivors, and the estimated 1.8 million who will be diagnosed with cancer this year.
On June 22, 2019, the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) recommended the use of Photobiomodulation (PBM) as the standard of care for preventing and treating the side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
The tragic challenge of fighting cancer is that the treatments severely damage the patient’s body. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and stem cell transplants can cause inflammation and the formation of ulcers inside the mouth. The painful sores make it painful to eat. In severe cases, known as oral mucositis (OM), patients can no longer swallow food.
OM occurs in close to 40 percent of patients receiving chemotherapy and nearly 80 percent of patients receiving radiation therapy, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
OM can disrupt cancer therapy. The pain is excruciating. A feeding tube is usually required, sometimes cancer therapy is suspended so the patient can recover. Under these circumstances, the cancer treatment may be less effective, and patients can become depressed and demoralized by these multiple shocks to their system. Quality of life is significantly diminished.
Photobiomodulation (PBM) is a light therapy treatment that helps fortify the oral tissues, reducing pain and inflammation and promoting repair. It works by improving energy production in cells by stimulating their mitochondria which can absorb this light and use it to increase energy (ATP) production and reduce the free radicals (ROS) that cause inflammation and cell death. Under these circumstances tissues heal and become more resilient. Energized mitochondria repair cells and restore them to being fully functioning. The patient’s side effects disappear. PBM use, as part of the preparation for chemotherapy, prevents the side effects from occurring in the first place.
This medical breakthrough led to MASCC recommending PBM as the standard of care for all cancer patients who develop OM or are at risk of developing OM.
PBM was discovered in 1967. It remained mostly in research laboratories in until the 21st Century. Now researchers at major medical schools and pioneering hospitals are exploring the clinical applications of PBM for the brain, heart, eye, spinal cord, neuropathic pain, and hard to heal wounds. They recognize that the 32 trillion cells in the human body are the battleground for how the body remains healthy in the face of disease, injury, and aging.
Oncologists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and other cancer centers, started to treat patients with PBM and are documenting the excellent results. UPMC has treated over 850 cancer patients with PBM, significantly diminishing the side effects of cancer therapies. Preventing OM eliminates treatment interruption, leading to a substantial increase in “progress free” cancer survivability. Lessening side effects meant shorter hospital stays, less readmissions, and reducing overall cost of care.
PBM's success and safety recently led St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to start using it on their pediatric cancer patients.
In 2018, Britain’s National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE) adopted PBM as their standard of care for preventing OM. Health plans in other countries have followed, building momentum for MASCC’s recommendation at their international meeting.
“This a major milestone for the field and we are confident it will set a clear path for several exciting clinical applications for Photobiomodulation therapy from concussions and wound healing to exciting new work with regenerative medicine and stem cells,” said Dr. Praveen Arany, President of the World Association for Photobiomodulation Therapy.
Arany is one of the leaders of the movement to establish PBM as a mainstream treatment. Four thousand published research papers, featured in major medical journals like the Lancet, and over seven hundred Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) are building the case for broader applications of PBM. Clinical evidence is proving PBM Therapy is effective for musculoskeletal, neuropathic, and traumatic pain.
The National Library of Medicine (NML) has recognized the legitimacy of PBM’s role in fortifying cells by accepting Photobiomodulation (PBM) as an official Medical Subject Heading. The NLM catalogue contains more than 6,000 articles on the medicinal effects of light on cells and helping the body’s ability to defend itself and regenerate.
“PBM Therapy is more than just a form of pain relief, it actually helps patients heal,” explained James Carroll, CEO of THOR Photomedicine, a PBM device manufacturer.
The MASCC recommendation is an historic milestone and a major turning point in making Photobiomodulation the future of medicine. Healthcare professionals and their patients are looking forward to updating other standards of care as PBM moves into the medical mainstream.
Scot Faulkner is the best-selling author of: "Naked Emperors: The Failure of the Republican Revolution." He also served as the first chief administrative officer of the U.S. House, and was director of personnel for the Reagan campaign and went on to serve in the presidential transition team and on the White House staff. During the Reagan administration, he held executive positions at the FAA, the GSA, and the Peace Corps. Read more of Scot Faulker, Go Here Now.
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