Use of Palmitoylethanolamide in controlling acute side effects during radiotherapy in head and neck cancer
(ABSTRACT PRESENTED AT THE XX1 AIRO CONFERENCE, GENOVA, ITALY, NOVEMBER, 2011),
42 patients, during radiotherapy treatment for head/neck cancer (26 males, 16 females), were included.
The conclusion was that the cream reduced damage, protected the skin and the tolerability was good:
“Results from the Trento study show that 4 out of 5 patients receiving radiotherapy for head and neck cancer and using palmitoylethanolamide cream experience only a mild or no skin reaction”
From this we can learn that palmitoylethanolamide can protect damage and dermatitis of radiation on the skin during cancer therapy. Most probably it is best to predose oral palmitoylethanolamide before radiation starts. After the treatment the topical cream can be added. Palmitoylethanolamide has a long hostory of protection against inflammation and protecting after damage done by chemotherapy and other insults to the tissue.
In the table we can see that many patients using the cream had no or only very little damage after radiation. Without cream damage can always be seen.
Dry, inflamed, red, itchy skin, brittle nails and a sore mouth are some of the painful
problems patients can be faced with after chemo and radiotherapy.
With over 300,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed each year here in the UK, over half will
develop some kind of adverse skin reaction.
For many cancer patients, inflammatory skin reactions are a common side effect of cancer therapy that can range from mild to severe and include itchy and painful rashes. This is called radiation dermatitis.
Radiation dermatitis affects a majority of patients undergoing treatment for breast and head and neck cancers. In one study, as many as 70 percent of women receiving radiation therapy for breast cancer reported radiation dermatitis – including painful, weeping or bleeding skin that caused significant discomfort and even disfigurement – that require treatment with topical corticosteroid creams and antibiotics.
Indeed dry skin and skin irritation have been voted the two most annoying side effects of
chemo and radiotherapy by cancer patients in general, ranking above insomnia, fatigue and even
Such appearance related problems can have a very negative impact on the quality of life and are hard to cope with. The embarrassment can leave patients feeling isolated, lonely, depressed and reluctant to spend time with their family and friends. Also, left untreated a minor skin irritation can all too easily turn into a major skin infection and in the worst cases this can even lead to delays in cancer treatment.
A topical cream containing palmitoylethanolamide will therefore be much welcomed in patients suffering from radiation dermatitis.
Inflammation after radiation damage and the effects of PEA on the activated mast cells
After radiation damage the skin (and mucosa) becomes inflamed, among others via activation of mast cells. This leads to the occurrence and amplification of disorders as late effects of radiation damage such as:
Reddening, Itching and burning of skin
Dryness of skin and mucous membranes
Ulceration and cracking of tissues and mucous membranes
Desquamation of tissues (also foot desquamation)
Hair loss (as a further cause)
Nail brittleness/ Ridged nails
Inflammation of the periungual tissues (paronychia)
The mast cell response is regulated at a local level by endogenous molecules, in particular fatty acid amides such as palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which control the mast cell response via a negative feedback loop.
When applied locally, PEA cream isa able to control the mast cell, restore its normal levels of activity and, therefore, control and repair tissue damage. Following application of PEA cream, the cream will restore the capability of the tissues to repair the damage ( without interfering with cancer treatment). Hand in hand the capsules with PEA can be givben to restore the balance of tissues from within.
PEA therefore helps to reduce the symptoms caused by the side effects of chemo and radiotherapy.
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