Topical betamethasone for prevention of radiation dermatitis

Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. May-Jun 2007;73(3):209. doi: 10.4103/0378-6323.32755.


Background: Although acute radiation dermatitis (ARD) is a common side-effect of radiotherapy (RT), currently there is no general consensus about its prevention or treatment of choice.

Aims: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether prophylactic use of topical betamethasone 0.1% can prevent ARD caused by chest wall irradiation.

Methods: Fifty-one patients who underwent modified radical mastectomy for breast cancer and were going to receive RT, were randomly assigned to receive topical betamethasone 0.1%, petrolatum or none during RT. The frequency and severity of ARD (measured using Radiation Therapy Oncology Group acute radiation morbidity scoring criteria) were recorded at the end of each week during RT and two weeks after its completion. Clinical outcomes were analyzed by relevant statistical methods.

Results: All patients developed some degree of ARD, the frequency and severity of which increased with time and reached the maximum at the end of the seventh week for all groups. Patients receiving betamethasone had less severe ARD than the other two groups throughout the course of the study, but this difference was significant only at the end of the third week (p = 0.027). No significant difference was observed between the petrolatum and control arms.

Conclusion: Prophylactic and ongoing use of topical betamethasone 0.1% during chest wall RT for breast cancer delays occurrence of ARD but does not prevent it. Petrolatum has no effect on the prevention of ARD in these patients.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betamethasone / administration & dosage*
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Emollients / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Petrolatum / administration & dosage
  • Radiodermatitis / etiology
  • Radiodermatitis / prevention & control*
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thorax


  • Emollients
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Petrolatum
  • Betamethasone