Acute radiation dermatitis is a common side-effect of radiotherapy in breast cancer and has a profound impact on patients’ quality of life, due to pain and discomfort. The aim of this study is to compare the effect of β-sitosterol (Mebo) ointment to trolamine (Biafine) cream for the prevention and treatment of radiation dermatitis in breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant radiation therapy.
This is a prospective open-label randomized phase III study developed to assess the efficacy of 2 topical agents used for management of acute radiation dermatitis. Female breast cancer patients who needed a course of radiation therapy in our institution were enrolled and randomized into 2 groups 1 with Mebo ointment and 1 with Biafine cream. Both medications were applied twice per day during the whole period of treatment and skin reactions and related symptoms were assessed weekly during the entire course. Grading of skin reactions was done according to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group grading system.
Between September 2015 and May 2017, a total of 161 patients were recruited for this trial. Mean age was similar for both groups (50.19±12.57 vs. 51.73±11.23, respectively, P=0.41). All other patients and treatment characteristics were similar in both groups, except for the use of boost (82.7% in the Biafine group vs. 36.7% in Mebo group, P=0.012). Analysis was done for reactions recorded before the beginning of the boost and for the entire course including the boost. Using univariate and multivariate analysis, there was no significant difference in grades 2 and 3 dermatitis between the 2 groups. However, the incidence of severe pruritus and severe local skin pain were both significantly reduced in the Mebo group (14.1% in Biafine vs. 2.9% in Mebo, P=0.016 for pruritus and 11.5% vs. 1.4%, respectively, P=0.02 for severe pain).
This study showed no difference between Mebo and Biafine in the incidence and severity of breast skin dermatitis during radiation therapy. However, the use of Mebo ointment was associated with decreased severe pruritus and pain which could positively affect patient comfort and quality of life.
*Department of Radiation Oncology, American University of Beirut Medical Center
†Department of Radiation Oncology, Clemenceau Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon
‡Department of Radiation Oncology, Cleveland Clinic Florida, Weston, FL
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Reprints: Fady B. Geara, MD, PhD, Department of Radiation Oncology, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Bliss Street, Beirut, Lebanon. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.