Use of deodorants during adjuvant breast radiotherapy: a survey of compliance with standard advice, impact on patients and a literature review on safety

P H Graham, J L Graham
Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology 2009, 53 (6): 569-73
Proscription of antiperspirant or deodorant use during adjuvant breast radiotherapy is common. The investigators were seeking an information base to facilitate design of an appropriate controlled trial of the use of deodorants during radiotherapy. The first component consisted of a survey of women after adjuvant breast radiotherapy seeking information about routine deodorant use and potential concern if deodorants were not permitted during radiotherapy. The second component comprised a literature search for any existing controlled evidence regarding harm from deodorant use during radiotherapy. Four hundred fourteen women completed surveys. Two hundred eighty recalled advice against deodorants. Two hundred ninety-nine women routinely used deodorants, 70% of whom used roll-on products. Forty-five continued deodorant use during radiation, 20 of these despite recalling advice not to wear a deodorant. Of the 233 women who routinely wore a deodorant but abstained during radiotherapy, 19% expressed a lot of concern about body odour and 45% were slightly concerned. Three controlled studies totalling 310 patients report specific deodorants versus no deodorant use which did not show statistically significantly increased skin reactions, but had only a small subset with axillary irradiation. The proscription of deodorant use during radiotherapy is of unproven benefit and causes body odour concern to the majority of women who are usual deodorant users. The next most appropriate trial would compare use of the usual deodorant versus no deodorant, would encompass a significant number of women with radiotherapy to the axilla or application of deodorant to irradiated skin areas, and include endpoints other than skin reaction alone.

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