Objective: To systematically review and
critically appraise all evidence on skin care advice and products tailored for
patients receiving radical radiotherapy for breast cancer and to determine an
evidence-based conclusion regarding the most effective products.
Data Resources and Review Methods: Major
healthcare databases were searched with additional efforts made to hand-search
current journals. All relevant literature fulfilling the inclusion and exclusion
criteria was subjected to quality assurance checks. Those that passed underwent
a more rigorous appraisal and were included in the review.
Results: Ten studies were identified as
fulfilling the review criteria with regards to aims and quality. All were
randomised controlled trials; three were double-blinded, three were
single-blinded, the remaining were not blinded. Two addressed washing regimes,
two addressed deodorant use, whilst the six remaining studies investigated
creams, gels or dressings.
Conclusions: The results suggest that there is
a place for creams in the management and delay of radiation-induced skin
toxicities; however, research fails to highlight one product which has a
demonstrable benefit over others whilst still being cost effective and free from
adverse effects. Patients should not be discouraged from washing with water or
mild soaps and results suggest that the restriction of aluminium-free deodorant
during treatment is unnecessary; however, more research in this area is needed
with larger sample sizes.