Dr. Lacouture's Skin Care Guide for People Living with Cancer

CURE, Spring 2013, Volume 12, Issue 1

Skin problems are one of the many side effects patients with cancer may experience.

Skin problems are one of the many side effects cancer patients and survivors may experience during treatment. Radiation therapy can produce symptoms similar to those sustained from a sunburn and include redness, swelling, dryness and itching of the skin, while certain chemotherapy drugs can result in rashes and sun sensitivity. Some newer targeted drugs can lead to the development of hand and foot lesions or painful acne.

To help guide patients through the maze of skin side effects, their causes and their treatments, Mario E. Lacouture, a dermatologist specializing in cancer treatment-related skin conditions at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, recently released Dr. Lacouture’s Skin Care Guide for People Living with Cancer. Lacouture emphasizes the importance of finding solutions for skin problems, some of which can be debilitating. He says up to half of all people receiving some of the newer cancer drugs have their medications reduced or halted altogether because of skin conditions that become severe.

This user-friendly guide, divided into 12 chapters, covers a lot of ground, from the clinical to the cosmetic, including skin problems that result from surgery, stem cell transplantation and chemotherapy. It also goes beyond the medical aspect of managing skin conditions and delves into the psychological issues involved, especially those concerning hair loss and rash, both of which might cause people to miss work or avoid social interaction. Patients can learn about the best way to improve the signs and symptoms of a problem scar from surgery or find a remedy for dry mouth.

The book offers information, advice and solutions with the help of tables, questions and answers, illustrations and helpful bulleted lists of “Things to Remember” at the end of each chapter. Those pressed for time can flip to the back of the guide and page through the robust appendices, which include a table of skin, hair and nail side effects organized by medication, a glossary of terminology as well as recommended websites for patients and survivors.