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SCOR releases a Summary of Interventions for Acute Radiotherapy-Induced Skin Reactions in Cancer Patients

Posted on Feb 15, 2012

The Socity and College of Radiographers has released a new report: Summary of Interventions for Acute Radiotherapy-Induced Skin Reactions in Cancer Patients

Introduction

Summary of Interventions for Acute Radiotherapy-Induced Skin Reactions in Cancer Patients This is a summary of the main findings from the literature that have been used to develop a clinical guideline for acute radiotherapy induced skin reactions in cancer patients.

Skin reactions from external beam radiotherapy are one of the most common side-effects from treatment and are a factor which can limit dose. Megavoltage linear accelerators with skin sparing capabilities have significantly reduced the severity of reactions from radiotherapy; however, accelerated dose schedules with combined radiation chemotherapy regimens have increased the condition. The most severe reactions tend to be seen in those patients receiving high doses to large fields. Recently the use of Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) has been shown to offer the opportunity to reduce skin toxicity in some cases, especially the rates of dry and moist desquamation when treating cancers in the head and neck region.

Many patients have fears and anxieties about skin reactions from radiotherapy. The literature suggests that education regarding the care of early radiation skin reactions should be an essential part of the management process for patients undergoing radiotherapy.

Patients should be given information about skin reactions and self-care strategies.
A recent UK survey found that:

  • a variety of practises are used in the UK for skin care
  • differing advice is given to patients
  • uncertainty exists around what topical agents or dressings should be used.
The literature advises that, since radiation skin changes cannot be prevented, the goal for the patient is to delay onset of symptoms and to avoid factors that exacerbate the inevitable radiation damage. The aim of any skin care strategy should be to minimise symptoms and to promote and maintain comfort for as long as possible.


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