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Understanding radiation dermatitis

According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 1.6 million new cases of cancer will have been diagnosed in the United States in 2015. During the course of their disease, most cancer patients receive radiation therapy.

Delivering high energy in the form of waves or particles, radiation therapy alters the DNA of cancer cells, causing their death. Radiation can be administered either externally or internally (through materials placed into the body). It’s given in fraction doses, with the total recommended dose divided into daily amounts. Treatment, including the total dose, is determined on an individual basis.

Although improvements have been made in delivery of radiation therapy, approximately 95% of patients who receive it experience a skin reaction. What’s more, radiation therapy commonly is given concurrently with chemotherapy or targeted therapy to improve survival, which increases the toxicity risk. (more…)

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