Most breast cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy develop acute radiation dermatitis, a skin-related side effect that occurs soon after treatment.
When radiation dermatitis becomes moderate or severe, it can affect the quality of life of patients and even lead to treatment interruptions, which underlines the need to prevent and/or treat this condition.
“Radiation therapy is important to prevent locoregional recurrence,” explained Dr. Edward Chow, principal investigator at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto. “However, radiation-induced skin toxicity – also known as radiation dermatitis – is common, and patients who develop moderate to severe radiation dermatitis may experience treatment interruption and an increased risk of long-term toxicity.”
According to recent research, Mepitel Film, a silicone-based dressing that is applied to the skin before radiotherapy, may offer a possible solution, especially for patients at high risk of side effects – such as those who have had a mastectomy. , have large breasts, receive a high dose of radiation, have current skin conditions, smoke, or are undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy simultaneously.
The research included women with breast cancer who had had a mastectomy and were receiving radiation therapy. To be eligible, patients with large breasts (defined as a bra size of 36 or larger or a C cup or larger) must have undergone breast conserving therapy.
All patients in the study received radiation therapy to the entire breast and/or chest wall: 266 were assigned to the Mepitel Film application, while the remaining 137 were assigned to their center’s standard treatment oncology for radiation dermatitis.
“Supportive skin care regimens vary greatly from institution to institution, but commonly used (treatments) are aqueous creams and washing with soap and water,” Chow said.
In the end, data was collected from 243 patients in the Mepitel Film group and 124 in the control group. Eight patients moved from the Mepitel Film group to the standard care group.
Study results showed that 15.54% of patients who used Mepitel film developed moderate to severe radiation dermatitis, compared to 45.6% in the standard care group. Specifically for severe radiation dermatitis, the rates were 2.79% and 13.6% in the Mepitel Film treatment and standard care groups, respectively.
The use of Mepitel Film significantly reduced the incidence of moist desquamation, painful thinning and water drainage of the skin. A total of 7.97% of patients in the Mepitel Film group experienced this adverse event, compared with 19.2% in the standard care group.
Improvements were seen with both patient and clinician-reported outcomes.
“Patients (also) reported reduced tenderness, discomfort, pain, burning sensation, blistering, erythema (redness) and edema (swelling), said Chow.” (Health care providers) reported reduction in erythema, pain, and blistering.”
Additionally, patients in the Mepitel Film group were prescribed fewer topical antibiotics to treat radiation dermatitis compared to the standard care group, at 23.1% and 43.2%, respectively.
“This study confirmed that this film is beneficial in patients at higher risk of (radiation dermatitis), and therefore we recommend considering Mepitel Film to help prevent moderate to severe (radiation dermatitis) in patients high risk,” Chow said.
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