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Int Wound J. 2005 Jun;2(2):112-27.

Radiotherapy and wound healing.

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Department of Plastic Surgery, Radcliffe Infirmary, Woodstock Road, Oxford, UK.


Radiotherapy is an invaluable weapon when treating cancer. However, the deleterious effects of radiation, both immediate and long-term, may have a significant effect on local tissues. Problematic wound healing in radiation-damaged tissue constitutes a major problem that is frequently overlooked during the management of patients who require radiotherapy, or have had radiotherapy in the past. Poor wound healing may lead to chronic ulceration, pain, secondary infection and psychological distress and compromise the outcome of general or reconstructive surgery. We discuss the pathophysiology of poor wound healing following radiotherapy, specific problems for radiation-damaged tissue and potential treatments to improve wound healing of irradiated tissues.

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