Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Use of Lasers to Ease Cancer Pain Is Trialled; Those Being Treated for Disease in the Neck and Head Could Benefit

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Use of Lasers to Ease Cancer Pain Is Trialled; Those Being Treated for Disease in the Neck and Head Could Benefit

Article excerpt

A PIONEERING UK trial led by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Trust is set to look at whether a new approach can reduce the pain of head and neck cancer treatment.

The Lite Therapy Effectiveness For Oral Mucositis (LiTEFORM) trial will discover if low-level laser treatment can help in the management of painful irritation of the mouth lining - a common and very unpleasant side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Some 4,000 people have radiotherapy for head and neck cancer every year in England and Wales. Most will develop painful mouth inflammation (oral mucositis).

Affected patients can't talk, eat, drink or swallow as normal and some get painful swelling and mouth ulcers - 90% of those with oral mucositis need the support of a feeding tube. Their normal family and social life is disrupted and weight loss and long-term swallowing problems are common.

Until now, most patients have had to rely on simple mouthwashes and coating gels.

Like the few drug treatments tried out in the past, these often make little impact.

The four-year LiTEFORM project is led by Newcastle Hospitals in partnership with Newcastle University, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and hospitals across England and Wales.

Chief investigator for LiTEFORM Dr Michael Nugent of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said: "I pioneered the LiTEFORM trial to spare my patients some of the traumatic side effects of radiotherapy. LiTEFORM is the first of its kind in the UK and underlines the North East and North Cumbria's role at the cutting edge of research.

"The long-term goal of LiTEFORM is to improve the quality of life for radiotherapy patients, reduce pain levels, improve nutrition, and cut down the number of feeding tubes and hospital admissions."

LiTEFORM will tell doctors whether lowlevel laser therapy reduces the burden of painful mucositis for patients. …

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