Vol 26, No 3 (2021)
Case report
Published online: 2021-03-26

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Radiodermatitis as a consequence of radiation recall induced by acyclovir: case report

Marcos Tumitan Zorzan1, Renata de Mello Pereira1, Lucas Farina Lima1, Tatiana Veri de Arruda Mattos2, Rafael Sá13
Rep Pract Oncol Radiother 2021;26(3):475-480.


BACKGROUND: Radiation recall dermatitis (RRD) is an inflammatory reaction in an area of the skin previously irradiated for cancer treatment. The reaction usually occurs following the administration of a cytotoxic drug. Manifestations range from mild to severe, resulting in tissue necrosis. It is treated with removal of the probable causative agent, daily dressings and surgical debridement of the necrotic area.

CASE PRESENTATION: A 54-year-old woman had a previous diagnosis of intraductal carcinoma in situ, and had been submitted to lumpectomy and adjuvant radiotherapy and hormonal therapy. One year after surgery, sores suggestive of herpes zoster infection developed, and treatment with acyclovir was started. At the same time, there was the onset of pain and fever. In the skin area previously irradiated, there was breast hardening, skin infiltration and serosanguinolent discharge. An incisional biopsy was performed to rule out radioinduced sarcoma. The patient was treated with surgical debridement.

CONCLUSIONS: This case report describes acyclovir as a possible trigger of RRD, a rare condition that could have been mistaken for an eruption with other causes. In this case, the dermatitis reaction was confined to the previously irradiated area of the skin, which suggested radiation recall. A better understanding of the condition’s mechanism and about the possible joint effects of drugs and radiotherapy on the skin is necessary.

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