Dermoscopy of acute radiation-induced dermatitis in patients with head and neck cancers treated with radiotherapy

Sci Rep. 2023 Sep 21;13(1):15711. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-42507-1.


Head and neck cancer (HNC) was the seventh most common cancer in the world in 2018. Treatment of a patient may include surgery, radiotherapy (RT), chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these methods. Ionizing radiation used during RT covers relatively large volumes of healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. The acute form of radiation-induced dermatitis (ARD) are skin lesions that appear usually within 90 days of the start of RT. This is a prospective study which compares 2244 dermoscopy images and 374 clinical photographs of irradiated skin and healthy skin of 26 patients at on average 15 time points. Dermoscopy pictures were evaluated independently by 2 blinded physicians. Vessels in reticular distribution, white, yellow or brown scale in a patchy distribution, perifollicular pigmentation and follicular plugs arranged in rosettes were most often observed. For these dermoscopic features, agreement with macroscopic features was observed. Two independent predictors of severe acute toxicity were identified: gender and concurrent chemotherapy. Knowledge of dermoscopic features could help in the early assessment of acute toxicity and the immediate implementation of appropriate therapeutic strategies. This may increase the tolerance of RT in these groups of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Dermoscopy
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiation Oncology*
  • Radiodermatitis* / etiology