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Effect of laughter in radiation therapy

Effect of laughter in radiation therapy

July 22, 2015

A good laugh may have significant benefits in radiation treatments. A recent study by Kong et al. (2014) explored the effect of laughter therapy on radiation-induced dermatitis in breast cancer patients treated with radiation therapy. Radiation-induced dermatitis is one of the most common side-effects of radiation therapy such that 95% of patients receiving radiation therapy are affected. Radiation-induced dermatitis results from structural tissue damaged and generation of short-lived free radicals induced by radiation beams. Patients presenting with radiation-induced dermatitis experience pain and discomfort, some to the extreme that radiation therapy has to be terminated.

In the experiment by Kong et al., study patients were assigned to one of two groups – the control group received only radiation therapy while the experimental group received laughter therapy at the beginning of radiation therapy. Laughter therapy included an introduction on the effect of laughter and positive thinking and actual practice of laughing in the mirror, with music, and with rhythmic clapping. The laughing therapy session concluded with deep breathing, relaxation, and sharing the participants’ thoughts. The study found that compared to the control group, the experimental group that received laughter therapy presented with fewer cases of dermatitis in general. Specifically, the experimental group presented with lower incidence of grade 2 or worse radiation-induced radiation dermatitis.

While more research needs to be done to explore the potential beneficial effects of laughter therapy in radiation therapy, this pilot study presents hope that there may be an effective and free method of therapy supplement.


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