With more female breast cancer survivors living longer, radiodermatitis is increasingly common. Consequently, dermatologists worldwide are investigating better ways to identify and alleviate it.
In a commentary published in Breast Cancer — Targets and Therapy, a team led by Rene-Jean Bensadoun, M.D., a radiation oncologist with the Centre de Haute Energie in France, discussed not only how providers can recognize the types of radiodermatitis, but also some treatment options.
“Radiodermatitis is still a pregnant problem for patients receiving radiation for cancer,” he says. “Radiation oncology is having brilliant results, but acute and late skin toxicity remains an inherent side effect of most radiation treatments, especially in breast cancer, gynecological and rectal cancers.”
In female breast cancer patients, radiodermatitis presents in acute and chronic ways. Not only can these forms present differently, but therapeutic options also vary, he says.
Acute dermatitis is identified by symptoms that appear within six months of treatment. Patients experience dry, itchy skin that can be red, feel warm, and peel along the skin folds of the breasts, clavicle, and periauricular areas.
To date, there have been few evidence-based recommendations on preventing acute radiodermatitis. However, Bensadoun says, new data points to dermocosmetics.
“The role of dermocosmetics has to be highlighted in the preventive management of these skin toxicities,” he says. “Previously, they were not prescribed by most physicians, but recent international guidelines have highlighted their important role.”
1. Seité S, Bensadoun RJ, Mazer JM. Prevention and treatment of acute and chronic radiodermatitis. Breast Cancer (Dove Med Press). 2017;9:551-557.