Cancer Patients

A Promising Route For Cancer Patients

How East Devon Physical Therapy’s PBM Treatment Can Help with cancer treatment side affects?

The advantages of Photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy when it comes to pain relief and physical recovery have long been documented. The treatment – which involves the use of red and near infrared light to induce anti-inflammatory responses and stimulate healing – has historically been used to treat any number of conditions from Tendinitis and Psoriasis to Osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia.


However, PBM is showing a great deal of promise when it comes to tackling the chronic pain that often arrives as a side effect of cancer treatments. With many patients finding chemo and radiotherapy as painful and demoralising as the cancer itself, PBM offers a non-toxic and non-invasive way to overcome the pain caused by these treatments.


What’s more, although definitive research is still ongoing, it seems that PBM therapy may actually help fight certain types of cancer directly as well. 

PBM & Cancer Treatment Pain

With cancer treatment side effects often being so painful that patients are tempted to discontinue their treatment sessions as a result, PBM is an increasingly recognised and effective method to alleviate this pain and avoid the risks of ending treatment.

An area in which PBM has proven itself successful is in the treatment of Oral Mucositis. One of the most common side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments for cancers of the head and neck, Oral Mucositis is an acute inflammation and soreness of the mouth. It occurs in almost all patients undergoing high-dose chemotherapy and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) and 80% of patients with malignancies of the head and neck receiving radiotherapy. Many patients receiving standard chemotherapy can also be at risk from this painful side affect.

At East Devon Physical Therapy we offer a PBM therapy that targets oral mucositis with red and near-infrared LED light, triggering an anti inflammatory response and significantly relieving the condition. In fact it doesn’t just relieve the condition, it can completely prevent it from occurring at all. PBM is listed and recommended by NICE for the effective use on these side affects that cancer treatments create and is an approved treatment by the NHS for oral Mucositis.

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Beyond Oral Mucositis

When it comes to cancer treatment side effects, PBM therapy is an effective tool when treating a number of other conditions, including… 


Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy

Many chemotherapy treatments can cause peripheral neuropathy, a condition that arises due to the chemotherapy drugs damaging the nerves that govern the movement of, and sensation in, a patient’s arms, legs, hands, and feet

Radiation dermatitis

This is a common side effect of breast cancer radiotherapy. With radiation damaging the skin as it fights cancer cells, the condition commonly results in redness, ulceration, and peeling skin. It’s also a condition that can arise many years after radiotherapy has ended.


A complication that can arise from breast cancer surgery, Lymphoedema is a chronic condition that causes swelling of the body’s tissues, with the lymphatic system unable to remove excess fluid. Although it can affect any part of the body, the condition usually occurs in the arms or legs.


However, it’s not simply as a pain relief tool that PMB therapy is proving itself effective when it comes to cancer.

PBM As A Tool To Fight Cancer Directly

There are an increasing number of studies that suggest certain types of PBM therapy can help fight cancer beyond just relieving the pain that cancer treatments cause. To understand how PBM may directly help, it’s important to grasp why the red and near-infrared light used in PBM therapies is so relevant.


With light at the red end of the spectrum having a longer wavelength, it’s able to penetrate body tissue more easily and be absorbed by the cells. This absorbed light serves to activate a cell’s mitochondria – its energy generator. The issue here is that a large proportion of the energy that mitochondria produce is stored in a molecule called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which becomes far less effective with age, illness, or injury.


The red light used in PBM serves as a stimulator that helps mitochondria increase their ATP production. With this in mind, let’s look at the 3 mechanisms by which PBM may actually combat cancer directly.

The Direct Effect of Light Itself

An effect that’s been proposed by a leading laboratory in China, it’s thought that light can have a direct impact on cancer tumour cells, causing them to effectively overdose and die. The approach is referred to as ‘high fluence low-power laser irradiation’, with studies performed at the Chinese laboratory resulting in a complete regression of tumours in mice. 

When Used as a Complementary Therapy

The second mechanism exploits the different ways in which malignant and healthy cells respond to PBM. By combining PBM therapy with traditional cytotoxic treatments such as chemotherapy, PBM increases the number of cancer cells destroyed while simultaneously protecting t he body’s healthy cells. While this may sound like an oncologist’s dream scenario, there are solid scientific reasons why this may be the case.

As an Immune System Stimulant

The final way in which PBM may help is by stimulating t he body’s immune system, strengthening the system’s a bility to fight cancer itself.


In another experiment on mice, PBM was used to increase the engagement of immune cells (Tlymphocytes and dendritic cells) which resulted in the significant reduction of melanoma tumours.

It’s important here to note that not all studies into PBM’s effectiveness as a tool to directly fight cancer have shown the same results. That said, the mechanisms at play and the science behind them are increasingly gaining ground in the mainstream medical community.

East Devon Physical Therapy PBM Treatments

At East Devon Physical Therapy, we have an expert team that can consult and advise you on the most beneficial PBM therapy for your condition. If you’re a cancer patient or are close to someone who is, we offer a wide range of pain treatment options that can help. 


We’re one of the few practices in the UK – and the only one in the South West – that offers PBM therapy with the NovoTHOR system. The only full body PBM system that is regulated as a medical grade device and used within medical research institutes for its accuracy snd efficiency in treatments. Alongside this we also use the handheld probe version for more acute areas or if you are unable to lay on the full body system for whatever reason.


As state-of-the-art PBM systems, the full body NovoTH OR and handheld THOR LX2 have a comprehensive and well documented history of alleviating all manner of ca ncer treatment side effects, including Oral Mucositis, usually being used as the devices behind the research. As disturbing as cancer can be, its treatment doesn’t ne ed to be the traumatic experience that many people stuffer through.

With our PBM therapy offering a safe and effective way to alleviate pain and manage cancer treatment side effects, we provide a much-needed way forward. 


There is NO EVIDENCE OF HARM FOR CANCER PATI ENTS BEING TREATED WITH PBM THERAPY However, if you are having ACTIVE cancer treatment (Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy) or have cancer but are not in active treatment, it is best practice for you to receive your oncologist’s permission that they are happy for you to have PBM Therapy. Please ask us for any paperwork to show your team for their approval.


To find out more about our NovoTHOR or handheld localised PBM treatments and how they can help you with your pain and symptoms, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation.

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