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Strahlenther Onkol. 2011 Jun;187(6):378-84. doi: 10.1007/s00066-011-2224-8. Epub 2011 May 16.

Treatment of acute radiodermatitis with an oil-in-water emulsion following radiation therapy for breast cancer: a controlled, randomized trial.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospitals of Schleswig-Holstein, University of Kiel, Germany.



A side effect of radiotherapy for breast cancer is acute radiodermatitis. It is a common practice to keep irradiated skin dry on account of data from the 1950s that suggested this regimen limits dermatitis. However, severe dryness of the skin induced by irradiation results in itching and discomfort. Dry skin is characterized by scaliness, epidermal barrier dysfunction, and reduced stratum corneum hydration, and these signs and symptoms are reduced by treatment with an emulsion.


We performed a randomized, controlled, open-label study with 66 patients (ITT population), treating the irradiated skin in one group (n = 34) with an oil-in-water emulsion (WO1932), while leaving the other group untreated (n = 32). Clinical scoring (ONS radiation skin reaction scoring, pruritus) and biophysical measurements (stratum corneum hydration and transepidermal water loss (TEWL), as a marker of skin barrier function) were determined at day 1 (directly after termination of the radiation therapy), day 8, and day 47 (± 7).


Irradiation increased the ONS score and pruritus, whereas skin hydration and TEWL were reduced. The primary hypothesis that the increase in skin hydration was significantly greater in the emulsion-treated compared to the untreated group as early as after 8 days of treatment could not be confirmed. At the end of the study (day 47 ± 7), however, normalization of stratum corneum hydration was more advanced in the treatment group compared to the untreated group and nearly reached the values of the contralateral healthy breast skin. ONS score and pruritus also revealed an advantage for the emulsion-treated group. TEWL did not show significant changes during emulsion treatment. No adverse events were caused by the treatment regimens


Treatment of radiodermatitis with an oil-in-water emulsion was well tolerated, enhanced stratum corneum hydration, improved clinical indicators, and provided relief from itching.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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