WVU Cancer Institute brings new technology to help with a common side effect

Head and neck cancer patients get a painful side effect known as mucositis
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 6:33 PM EDT
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MONONGALIA COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Cancer patients deal with many side effects when they go through treatment. The WVU Cancer Institute Department of Radiation Oncology found a way to prevent a side effect, known as mucositis, that is seen in head and neck cancer patients.

"It is an inflammation type of condition from head an neck radiation," THOR photomedicine dental and oral mucositis specialist, Sara Jane Snyder said. "They get painful sores throughout their entire oral cavity, down their esophagus and all they down through their digestive track," she said.

“Anybody who’s getting a high dose of chemoradiation treatment, it’s almost 100 percent guarantee that their going to get a high level of oral mucositis.”

Having mucositis can make everyday tasks difficult, like eating or brushing your teeth. This is why using what is called photobiomodulation helps treat this side effect.

"What we found is by shining light of a certain dose and of a certain wavelength, we can actually allow those sores to heal more quickly and reduce pain for patients," Snyder said.

Recently, The Department of Radiation Oncology at the WVU Cancer institute began using this device.

"One of the reasons that we obtained it is because there are international guidelines for supportive care that recommend this kind of therapy for the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis caused by radiation," The WVU Cancer Institute Radiation Oncology chair and M.D., Geraldine Jacobson said.

Having this new form of technology is something the institute is hopeful patients will have a better treatment experience.

"We're really excited because I think it's going to help our patients get through forms of treatment that are really important to them and they're just going to feel better during treatment and afterwards," Jacobson said.

For more information, visit their website.

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