Radiotherapy: Understanding
Treatment and Side Effects

Radiotherapy, also known as radiation therapy, is a cancer treatment option that targets and kills cancer cells with high energy radiation. Radiotherapy is commonly used to treat breast cancer, head and neck cancers, and skin cancers, among others. Although it is an effective treatment option, it usually has side effects. In fact, most patients who receive radiation therapy experience some form of radiation dermatitis as a side effect.

What is Radiation Dermatitis?

Radiation dermatitis is a skin condition that commonly develops because of radiotherapy. Approximately, 95% of patients who receive radiation therapy experience radiation dermatitis as a side effect. Radiation dermatitis typically appears as a rash, mild redness, or even severe blistering and ulceration.

Symptoms of Radiation Dermatitis

Symptoms of radiation dermatitis include itching, burning, pain, and tenderness in the treated area. The skin may also become dry, flaky, and cracked. In severe cases, blisters and ulcers develop. It is worth noting that the appearance of radiation dermatitis does not mean a healthcare provider has done anything wrong.

Radiotherapy: Understanding Treatment and Side Effects

Unfortunately, some radiotherapy patients simply experience radiation dermatitis. The dose, duration, and frequency of radiotherapy treatments have a direct impact on the severity of radiation dermatitis. Additionally, a patient’s skin type and other health factors, such as diabetes and obesity, may play a role in radiation dermatitis severity.

Treating Radiation Dermatitis

KeraStat® Cream offers an effective way to manage radiation dermatitis. This FDA-cleared prescription product is the result of 12 years of research and was developed to help patients experiencing side effects of radiotherapy. KeraStat® cream may be applied to affected areas of the body prior to radiotherapy sessions.

There are very few alternative options for radiation dermatitis. Most over-the-counter options are not considered an effective treatment option, and some may actually interfere with radiotherapy success. Additionally, over-the-counter products may only provide limited relief for itching and burning symptoms. Severe cases of radiation dermatitis may require the use of antibiotics, steroids, or pain medication to treat or manage additional complications such as infections, inflammation, or pain.

It is important to follow the advice of a healthcare provider when taking any prescription medication, as they can have side effects or interact with other medications. It is also essential to speak with a healthcare provider before using any topical creams or over-the-counter products, as some can interfere with the healing process.

radiotherapy, radiationtherapy

Preventing Radiation Dermatitis

While radiation dermatitis is a common side effect of radiation therapy, there are steps that patients can take to prevent or minimize the severity of this condition. Patients can maintain good skin hygiene by washing the treated area with mild soap and water and avoiding the use of harsh soaps or exfoliants.

Additionally, patients can avoid exposing the treated area to extreme temperatures, such as hot water or cold air. Patients can also wear loose-fitting clothing to reduce friction and avoid wearing jewelry in the treated area.

Radiation therapy is a valuable treatment option for cancer patients but does come with the risk of experiencing radiation dermatitis. Fortunately, the prescription-strength product KeraStat® Cream offers an effective option to manage it. Patients deserve to be heard when they experience the pain and discomfort of radiation dermatitis. Radiotherapy patients should talk to their doctor about KeraStat® Cream to manage radiation dermatitis and achieve a better quality of life.

Sources

  1. American Cancer Society. Radiation Therapy Side Effects. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/radiation/side-effects-of-radiation-therapy.html.
  2. National Cancer Institute. Radiation Dermatitis. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/skin/necrosis.
  3. The Skin Cancer Foundation. Radiation Dermatitis. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.skincancer.org/treatment-resources/radiation-dermatitis/.