Radiodermatitis affects approximately 95% of all patients who receive radiation therapy for cancer. Many of these individuals are women undergoing breast cancer treatment, and they report developing the condition has significant detrimental impacts on their overall quality-of-life.
In a study published recently in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, Yara Christina de Paiva Maia, a professor with the Universidade Federal de Uberlandia, and her colleagues investigated how radiodermatitis affected these patients, finding a significant need for methods to reduce the impact on quality-of-life exists.1
“The impact of radiation therapy on functionality and the daily lives of the patients is sometimes underestimated when compared with the chemotherapy period,” de Paiva Maia writes. “However, our study and the literature show that this period presents unique changes, including modifications in their daily routine due to the treatment plan, an increase in physical discomfort, and changes in the breast appearance.”
According to Laura Beamer, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing at Northern Illinois University, affected women reveal the itching, burning, stinging, pain, irritation, embarrassment, depression, reduced social interaction and diminished ability to show affection all chip away at their happiness with their daily lives. The effects can be significant enough to prompt some women to halt treatment, making it critical for dermatologists to find ways to reduce the impact as much as possible.
Tracey Gosselin, chief nursing officer at Duke University Hospital, agrees.
1. Fuzissaki MA, Paiva CE, Oliveira MA, Lajolo canto PP, Paiva maia YC. The Impact of Radiodermatitis on
Breast Cancer Patients’ Quality of Life During Radiotherapy: A Prospective Cohort Study. J Pain Symptom
2. Beamer LC, Grant M. Using the Dermatology Life Quality Index to Assess How Breast Radiodermatitis
Affects Patients’ Quality of Life. Breast Cancer (Auckl). 2019;13:1178223419835547.