Skin reactions from radiotherapy
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Skin reactions from radiotherapy

Clare Warnock Practice development sister, Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Nicola Lee Patient information and support clinical specialist radiographer, Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Clare Warnock and Nicola Lee describe the ways skin reacts to radiotherapy and explain how well-informed nurses can support patients undergoing treatment

Radiotherapy is a widely used cancer treatment that can be used for curative and palliative intent. While it is effective, it can also result in side effects, including skin reactions. The type and severity of skin reaction experienced are influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors, and include erythema, dry desquamation and moist desquamation. These can make a significant impact on patients’ wellbeing as they have physical, psychological and social consequences. Accurate and structured skin assessment throughout treatment is needed to monitor reactions, evaluate interventions and plan care. Many patients have fears about the use of radiation as a treatment along with concerns about its potential side effects, including skin reactions. The provision of accurate patient information can help allay anxiety and improve their ability to cope with the challenges of treatment.

Cancer Nursing Practice. 13, 9, 16-22. doi: 10.7748/cnp.13.9.16.e1146


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 25 September 2014

Accepted: 13 October 2014

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