Researchers have shown how a topical steroid cream frequently used to treat common skin conditions, can be used to improve dermatitis in cancer patients.
Radiotherapy uses X-rays to destroy cancer cells but this can often lead to a severe skin reaction involving redness, pain and blistering similar to sunburn.
The trial of this cream – mometasone furoate—was so successful that the patients in the research will now be offered this instead of the existing treatment.
Breast cancer patients were recruited from hospitals all over the North West for the trial, based at the Rosemere Cancer Centre at the Royal Preston Hospital.
Dr Andrew Hindley of Rosemere Cancer Centre: "We believe that this treatment should be considered the standard of care when a radiation therapy schedule is administered to an anatomical site where severe dermatitis would be predicted."
The patients were offered either diprobase cream or mometasone furoate to be administered daily from the start of radiation therapy for 5 weeks and for at least a fortnight afterwards.
Dr Lisa Wood from Lancaster Medical School said: "Mometasone furoate cream significantly reduces radiation dermatitis when applied to the breast during and after radiation therapy. For the first time, we have shown a significantly beneficial effect on quality of life for a topical steroid cream."
The paper was presented at ASTRO, the international radiotherapy conference in the US last year and was one of two highly commended papers at UK Radiation Oncology conference later the same year.
Explore further: Silicone dressings reduce painful skin reactions following radiation for breast cancer, study finds