Results: Skin cream usage for radiation-related skin reactions study

Maybe you took part in our online survey about using skin creams and lotions or antiperspirants during radiation therapy? If so, we thank you! The survey study was done in conjunction with a simulated test to measure if lotions or antiperspirant had any effect on the dose of radiation received. The results were recently published and we wanted to share those results with you.

Brain Baumann, MD

Dr. Baumann, who led the study, summarizes what this means for people undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer:

Women undergoing daily breast radiation therapy for breast cancer have traditionally been advised by their healthcare providers to avoid using antiperspirants during their 3-6 week course of radiation because of concerns that antiperspirants could increase the radiation dose to the skin, causing skin toxicity. The main concern was that the aluminum compound which is the active ingredient in antiperspirants would scatter the radiation, causing the skin dose to increase. The issue is controversial, but several older clinical trials have investigated antiperspirant use during breast radiation therapy, and none showed that antiperspirants increased skin toxicity. In this study published in Radiotherapy and Oncology, we wanted to determine how popular the recommendation to avoid antiperspirants remains by doing an online survey of patients and healthcare providers using the OncoLink website. We also wanted to determine if the presence of antiperspirants would have any effect on the measured dose of radiation delivered to the skin to see if the recommendation to avoid antiperspirants has any scientific validity.

The results of our online survey demonstrated that the traditional recommendation to avoid antiperspirants during breast radiotherapy remains widespread in spite of the evidence that antiperspirant use appears to be safe during breast radiation therapy. In the second part of the study, we used state-of-the-art radiation measuring devices and found that antiperspirants did not increase the radiation dose to the skin, regardless of whether we used standard antiperspirant or extra-strength antiperspirant which contains more aluminum. Based on the results of the prior clinical trials and the results of this study, we think most women can safely use antiperspirants during breast radiation therapy without fear of increased skin side effects. Allowing women the option to use antiperspirants during radiation therapy is likely to improve quality-of-life. We would encourage women to discuss the issue with their healthcare provider.


If you’d like to read more, below is the publication about the study:

Radiotherapy and Oncology, July 2017 (ePub). Baumann et al. Avoiding antiperspirants during breast radiation therapy: Myth or sound advice?

Baumann et al, Antiperspirant manuscript, pre-print version, PDF

And a link to some media coverage of the study.

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