In a recent study, titled “Evaluating the Effects of Aluminum-Containing and Non-Aluminum Containing Deodorants on Axillary Skin Toxicity During Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer: A 3-Armed Randomized Controlled Trial”, published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology.Biology.Physics, a team of researchers led by Lucy Lewis, PhD, Centre for Nursing Research, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Australia, has assessed whether the use of both aluminum-containing and non aluminum containing deodorants during conventionally fractionated postoperative radiation therapy (RT) for breast cancer can induce axillary skin toxicity.
It has been questioned for a while if deodorant use during breast cancer radiation therapy could enhance axillary skin toxicity. Even though some studies have found no evidence to prohibit deodorant use during RT for breast cancer, this subject has remained controversial.
The research team designed a 3-arm randomized clinical study focusing on one center, tertiary cancer hospital during the time period between March 2011 and April 2013. A total of 333 patients were randomized into groups according to the type of deodorant used: either aluminum-containing deodorant and soap, non–aluminum containing deodorant and soap or a control group (soap).
Using generalized estimating equations researchers defined and compared the probabilities of experiencing high levels of sweating and skin toxicity in each of the deodorant groups when compared to the control group.
Different endpoints were assessed, such as axilla sweating, skin toxicity, pain, itch and burning. Furthermore, using a questionnaire, patients were asked to answer some questions regarding quality of life.
The team observed that in both groups, radiation characteristics were similar, with axillary pain, itch, or burning proving to be comparable between all groups. However, patients in the aluminum-containing deodorant group had significant lower levels of sweating than controls, with the chances of sweating becoming intolerable or interfering with daily activities decreasing by 85%.
According to the study authors, there was no evidence that using either aluminum-containing or non–aluminum containing deodorant negatively impacted axillary skin reaction during conventionally fractionated radiation therapy for breast cancer. Furthermore, this analysis demonstrated that patients using aluminum-containing deodorant arm produced less sweat without increasing symptoms of axillary radiation skin toxicity.
As the authors conclude in their study, these results “add to the evidence that the prescription of deodorants during radiation therapy for breast cancer is now questionable”.