Breast Cancer Associated Wound & Skin Issues
Updated: Feb 26
Katie Rizzo, BSN, RN, CWOCN; Corstrata Wound Specialist
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Corstrata has the privilege of working with these brave warriors as breast cancer generates a multitude of issues related to the management of wounds and the skin. Below are just a few of the types of wound-related complications from breast cancer and its treatments that we, as a wound and skin health company, provide advice on:
Fungating Breast tumors are wounds that experience problems with discharge odor, exudate management, pain, bleeding, and itching. They can be a very traumatic experience for individuals with breast cancer.
Lymphedema is caused when there is a collection of lymph fluid causing swelling. During the treatments for breast cancer, lymph nodes under the axilla (armpit) may require removal or radiation therapy. Blockage of the lymph vessels occurs, resulting in lymphedema of the affected arm, fingers, chest, or back. In severe cases, the stretching of the skin can lead to weeping or other disruption of the skin's surface. This can be very upsetting and difficult to manage.
Radiation skin burns are a side effect of radiation therapy which is one of the many treatments for breast cancer. The skin becomes red and irritated. Symptoms may include dryness, peeling, pain, burning, blistering, itching, and swelling. Severe cases may lead to oozing and wet skin, similar to severe burns. While radiation burns may resolve quickly in most cases, they can sometimes linger for years after treatment.
Seromas can occur after surgical procedures used to treat breast cancers. A seroma is a build-up of fluid in the absence of tissue that is removed by a surgical procedure. Occasionally, if the skin over the seroma breaks, the serous fluid inside the seroma may leak out, and drainage management can be very difficult, leading to further breakdown of the skin.
Management of these and many other types of skin and tissue loss secondary to a primary disease process such as breast cancer can be complex and difficult without proper training and knowledge on how to address these challenging wounds and conditions.
Costrata provides virtual access to board-certified wound and ostomy nurses. We welcome the opportunity to assist with wound and skin health issues resulting from breast cancer and its treatments.
Contact us at www.corstata.com or call 1-800-566-1307