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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2019 October;154(5):550-6

DOI: 10.23736/S0392-0488.19.06338-7


language: English

Cutaneous radiation damage: updating a clinically challenging concern

Fanni HEGEDUS 1, Robert A. SCHWARTZ 2

1 Faculty of Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary; 2 Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ, USA

Cutaneous radiation damage, commonly referred to as radiation dermatitis, is a finding of considerable concern. The exposure is often from radiation therapy, a double-edged sword, removing malignant cancer cells and improving the lives of countless patients, yet being locally destructive and potentially premalignant. Among its negative consequences and complications, radiation dermatitis, a potentially severe skin reaction that occurs after the receipt of radiation therapy, presents a clinical challenge today. There are two types of cutaneous radiation dermatitis: acute and chronic. Acute radiation dermatitis manifests within 90 days after the induction of radiation therapy while chronic radiation dermatitis develops beyond 90 days of radiation. There are many risk factors associated with radiation dermatitis which can be characterized as intrinsic, extrinsic, or both. Intrinsic risk factors include concurrent chemotherapy and targeted therapy, connective tissue and skin disorders, genetic and personal factors such as age, sex, smoking habits, and nutritional status. Extrinsic factors are mainly related to the type and dose of the radiation received. Treatment options have been enhanced in the last decade, providing patients with better outcomes and improved quality of life. Such treatments include topical ointments and therapies, oral enzymes, wound dressings and surgical treatments. This article aims to review the current medical understanding of radiation dermatitis, its risk factors, pathophysiology, and treatment options.

KEY WORDS: Radiation exposure; Radiation injuries; Radiodermatitis

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