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Eplasty. 2008 Jan 11;8:e9.

Wound healing in patients with cancer.

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  • 1Institute for Tissue Regeneration, Repair, and Rehabilitation, Bay Pines VA Medical Center, Bay Pines, Florida, USA.



The treatment of patients with cancer has advanced into a complex, multimodal approach incorporating surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Managing wounds in this population is complicated by tumor biology, the patient's disease state, and additional comorbidities, some of which may be iatrogenic. Radiation therapy, frequently employed for local-regional control of disease following surgical resection, has quantifiable negative healing effects due to local tissue fibrosis and vascular effects. Chemotherapeutic agents, either administered alone or as combination therapy with surgery and radiation, may have detrimental effects on the rapidly dividing tissues of healing wounds. Overall nutritional status, often diminished in patients with cancer, is an important aspect to the ability of patients to heal after surgical procedures and/or treatment regimens.


An extensive literature search was performed to gather pertinent information on the topic of wound healing in patients with cancer. The effects that surgical procedures, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and nutritional deficits play in wound healing in these patients were reviewed and collated.


The current knowledge and treatment of these aspects of wound healing in cancer patients are discussed, and observations and recommendations for optimal wound healing results are considered.


Although wound healing may proceed in a relatively unimpeded manner for many patients with cancer, there is a potential for wound failure due to the nature and effects of the oncologic disease process and its treatments.

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