WVU Medicine Children’s teams up with WVU Cancer Institute to help reduce pain in pediatric cancer patients


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital is in the training phase on a new machine to help children who suffer from mucositis.

Chemotherapy is difficult for any child, but when it causes mucositis, a painful side effect that causes ulcers to form in the mouth, it gets even harder. These children often require more pain medications and longer hospital stays.

The THOR photobiomodulation device uses low-level lasers in the near-infrared range that stimulate and promote wound healing and regeneration. 

Dr. Patrick Tomboc, chief of WVU Medicine Children’s Hematology and Oncology, stated never in his entire career he had a tool to result from mucositis, only topical pains and pain medicine.

“We had a patient who was being treated for leukemia who developed severe mucositis and was admitted for fever and mucositis. He was in the hospital for about 13 days,” explained Dr. Tomboc.

During that time, Tomboc was contacted by the WVU Medicine Adult Radiation Oncology Unit, where the device used and noticed data in transplant pediatrics. They then suggested that he should attempt to the device on the patient.

“So, we were able to utilize their machine for this patient. His next admission when he got admitted for fever and mucositis,” explained Dr. Tomboc. “We started the photo modulation therapy, the laser therapy once a day. He got it for three; I don’t know, three or four days, then he got discharged.”

Dr. Tomboc stated they had used this device on four kids with dramatic results, and he hopes to have the device online by the first week of March 2021.

“We’re really grateful that they were willing to look into using this device on kids to see what other institutions were using it and the pros and cons of the treatment. We’re also really excited that it has opened the door for other pediatric patients here.”

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