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Cancer in the Spa

By: Morag Currin
Posted: May 26, 2010, from the June 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 4 of 8

Skin-related side effects are common in clients living with cancer and receiving chemotherapy. The most rapidly dividing cells in the body relating to dermatologic cells are skin cells, hair follicles and the nail matrix, and together with other cells, such as those of the gastrointestinal tract, they are the most affected by chemotherapy. Hypersensitive reactions can cause temporary pale or reddened elevated patches with severe itching on the skin, and/or patches of swelling. Minimizing this hypersensitivity can be done in the spa environment with the use of hydrocortisone creams; however, clients need to be encouraged to see their physicians in the event this swelling is an allergic reaction.

Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy, a localized therapy, affects malignant cells primarily in treated areas. Different types of radiation therapy are available today, and alterations in skin integrity resulting from radiation therapy can cause short- and long-term side effects.

The epidermis, which is relatively sensitive, loses a fixed number of basal cells when they are destroyed by radiation therapy. A disruption occurs in the balance between the rate of cell renewal and the destruction of cells at the skin surface, causing cells to become cornified and to shed more quickly. When this happens, the basal cells are then stimulated to make new cells. Also, the destruction of basal cells from ongoing radiation therapy causes inflammation and a potential for permanently altered fibroblasts. Collagen in the treated area is then often immature or insufficient to meet the demands of normal wound-healing.13, 14

New developments in cancer radiation therapy have made it possible for radiation to be delivered to smaller areas, causing less damage to healthy tissue. The use of very advanced scanners and radiation technology allow treatments to be administered with a degree of precision that was not achieved in the past, therefore increasing the effectiveness of the treatments with fewer side effects.

Estheticians who have been trained in cancer and the skin can more accurately advise clients who have undergone radiation therapy about appropriate skin care for the area of radiated skin; what to avoid; and what to use. These estheticians can provide psychological benefits by understanding what the client is going through.

Heartfelt Stories and Easy-to-Understand Science to Elevate Your Spa Services for Your Clients with Cancer

Oncology Esthetics: A Practitioner's Guide by Morag Currin is a sensitively written book guiding you through the different types of cancers, cancer therapies, common ingredients and how it affects the skin, oncology drugs used in treatment, and side effects. Currin's book discusses different spa services and how they can be modified to suit your clients'needs.

See the Reviews! Alluredbooks-Oncology Esthetics