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PolyMem beneficial in treating radiotherapy induced skin reactions

May 28, 2014
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A new article by Macmillan Head and Neck Clinical Nurse Specialist, Audrey Scott, compares a standard treatment with PolyMem dressings in the treatment of radiotherapy induced skin reactions. Published in the current issue of the BJN (British Journal of Nursing, 2014 (Oncology Supplement), Vol 23, No 10), a holistic approach was taken to the evaluation forms used to gather data for this study.

Abstract:

Radiotherapy is one of the mainline treatments for cancer. One of the side effects associated with radiotherapy includes skin problems, which range from mild (dull erythema and tightening of the skin) to severe (moist desquamation resulting in open wounds that can be very painful associated with sloughy and, in some severe cases, necrosis). The increased use of advanced radical treatments, such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatment (IMRT), can also result in a higher number of patients experiencing skin reactions. It is estimated that approximately 87% of patients will experience a moderate-to severe skin reaction (Harris et al, 2011). An evaluation was undertaken in 20 patients with head and neck cancer following a prescribed treatment of radiotherapy to compare a polymeric membrane dressing (PolyMem®) against the standard treatment. The standard treatment consisted of topical aqueous cream at the start of radiotherapy with the addition of paraffin gauze when moist desquamation occurred.

A bespoke evaluation form was completed for a period of 4 weeks or until healed. Patients were asked to complete both qualitative descriptions and numerical scores of pain for symptoms and procedural pain. Analgesia and sleep patterns were logged and, in addition, free text diaries were provided for up to 4 weeks. Common themes were identified and qualitative data analysed.

See the results- read the full article here

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