Background: This study was planned to evaluate the efficacy of topical application of an Aloe vera-based cream (AVC) for the prevention of ionizing radiation (X ray)-induced dermatitis in head and neck cancer patients requiring therapeutic radiation treatment (>62 Gy). Methods: From July 2012 to December 2012, a total of 60 head and neck cancer patients requiring curative radiotherapy (RT) of more than 66 Gy were prospectively enrolled and treated with AVC or a comparator Johnson's Baby Oil (JBO). Acute skin reaction was monitored and classified according to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) four-point rating scale on a weekly basis. Results: The results indicate that there was a statistically significant delay in the incidence (p = 0.04) of dermatitis at week three in the AVC application group. Application of AVC reduced the incidence of Grade 1, 2, and 3 dermatitis at subsequent time points, while Grade 4 dermatitis was not seen in either cohort. The other most important observation was that the continued application of AVC two weeks after the completion of RT was effective in reducing the average grade of dermatitis and was statistically significant (p < 0.02). Conclusions: Prophylactic use of an AVC-based cream is thus effective in delaying radiation dermatitis in head and neck cancer.
Keywords: Aloe vera; Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG); head and neck cancer; radiation dermatitis; radiodermatitis.