Effectiveness of semi-permeable dressings to treat radiation-induced skin reactions. A systematic review

Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2017 Nov;26(6). doi: 10.1111/ecc.12685. Epub 2017 Apr 18.


The aim of this systematic review is to assess the available evidence concerning the effectiveness of semi-permeable dressings, on the full range of skin reactions, related to radiation therapy in cancer patients, from local erythema to moist desquamation, including subjective symptoms such as pain, discomfort, itchiness, burning and the effect on daily life activities. The bibliographic search was carried out looking for Randomised Clinical Trials (RCTs) indexed in PubMed, Cinhal, Cochrane plus and Biblioteca Nacional de Salud, published in the English and Spanish language, between 2010 and 2015. Data extraction and evaluation of study quality was undertaken by peer reviewers using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP). Of 181 studies, nine full texts were assessed. Finally, six RCT were included in the final synthesis: three analysed the application of Mepilex® Lite in breast cancer and head & neck cancer; one evaluated the application of Mepitel® Film in breast cancer; and two assessed the use of silver nylon dressings in breast cancer and in patients with lower gastrointestinal cancer. The results show that semi-permeable dressings are beneficial in the management of skin toxicity related to radiation therapy. However, rigorous trials showing stronger evidence are needed.

Keywords: cancer; dressings; nursing; radiodermatitis; radiotherapy; skin care.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bandages*
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Radiodermatitis / therapy*
  • Silicones / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Silicones
  • mepitel