Consumer Health: Coping with skin irritation from radiation therapy for breast cancer

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Breast cancer will affect 1 in 8 women, according to the American Cancer Society. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the U.S.

Radiation therapy may be used to treat breast cancer at almost every stage. It’s an effective way to reduce your risk of breast cancer recurring after surgery. In addition, it is commonly used to ease the symptoms caused by cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, such as metastatic breast cancer.

Skin irritation from radiation is a common side effect. This may include dry skin, redness, persistent itching, burning sensations and blistering. If your symptoms are persistent or severe, your health care provider may need to investigate whether there are any underlying contributing conditions. Your health care provider also can advise if you should make an appointment with a dermatologist. In the meantime, there are some self-care measures that may help.

Learn more about coping with skin irritation from radiation therapy for breast cancer from Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, a Mayo Clinic general internal medicine physician and past director of the Mayo Clinic Breast Diagnostic Clinic.

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