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Dressings ease radiation therapy

Herst

Dressings ease radiation therapy

Improved management of skin reactions caused by radiation therapy is likely following research into the use of silicone-based dressings by the Department of Radiation Therapy (University of Otago, Wellington) in collaboration with radiation therapists in Dunedin, Wellington, Palmerston North and Auckland.

Many breast cancers patients experience skin reactions such as flaking and ulceration during radiation therapy. Skin reactions compromise patient quality of life and, in severe cases, may disrupt radiation treatment.

The randomised, controlled trial led by Dr Patries Herst determined the effect of silicone-based dressings on the severity of skin reactions in 80 women treated with radiation for breast cancer. Half of the affected skin of each woman was treated with dressings and the other half with standard cream.

The dressings do not contain any chemicals, but adhere closely to healthy skin, protecting the radiation-damaged skin from rubbing against other body parts or clothing. The dressings do not stick to weeping skin, making them painless to remove without damaging the fragile skin underneath.

“The results clearly show that the dressings are significantly better than aqueous cream at decreasing the severity of skin reactions,” says Herst.

“Most patients prefer the dressings to the cream as well; they find them very easy to use and comfortable to wear.”

Herst hopes that silicone dressings will soon become standard skin care in radiation therapy departments.

Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in New Zealand women, with around 2,800 cases diagnosed every year and many receiving radiation therapy as part of their treatment.