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Evaluation of the effect of topical agents on radiation-induced skin disease by reflectance spectrophotometry


Correspondence: Prof. Carmelo Puglia, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Catania, Viale A Doria 6, 95125 Catania, Italy. E-mail:


Objectives Radiotherapy may cause severe skin changes that significantly interfere with the patient's quality of life and reduce radiotherapy effectiveness. Many skin care instructions and various topical agents are recommended to help patients in the management of radiation skin reactions, but evidence to support the value of the topical treatments of the irradiated skin is lacking. In the present study we investigated the effects of topical agents used as supportive care to minimise radiation-induced skin disease using an instrumental method.

Methods Subjects who were undergoing a planned course of radiation therapy after breast-conserving surgery were randomised to treatment (using one of two topical agents) or non-treatment (control) groups and monitored over 8 weeks. The intensity of skin erythema was evaluated once per week by non-invasive instrumental reflectance spectrophotometry in comparison with a visual scoring system.

Key findings Examination of the erythema time course by a sensitive spectrophotometric reflectance method showed a significant increase of skin reactions in the non-treated group after the second week of treatment and maximal alterations between the fourth and sixth week.

Conclusions From the results obtained, we observed that application of topical agents used in radio-induced skin disease were able to significantly reduce the erythema extent compared to the non-treated group.