If you are treated with radiotherapy or have a fungating (cancer) wound you already have a professional contact. Always address your questions and concerns to them.
Radiotherapy (or radiation treatment) treats cancer by using high-energy rays. Because the radiation is concentrated in one area, after 2-3 weeks of treatment, the skin may react and become friable (thin).
These reactions are graded according to their severity:
- Grade 1: Redness, heat, pain, sometimes itching and swelling. This is a common skin reaction, affecting almost all patients
- Grade 2: Redness, itching, dryness and peeling of the skin. This affects about 45% of patients
- Grade 3: The skin is purple-red, moist, hot, and painful. Exudate (wound fluid) and/or blisters may be present
- Grade 4: The skin is dead and black. Very rare
The skin should be washed with lukewarm water and a non-perfumed soap. If you have a grade 3 reaction, you should use lukewarm normal saline, which will be provided by your healthcare professional.
You will need to use a dressing that protects the wound and the surrounding skin. If there is exudate from the wound, you will need to use an absorbent dressing.
These wounds occur where an underlying malignant growth (tumour) breaks through the skin. They are susceptible to infection, and often contain dead tissue, which causes odour.
The most common symptoms are:
- Exudate (wound fluid)
A number of suitable dressings can be found if you click on the ‘our solutions’ tab.