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Skin problems in palliative care 

Skin problems in palliative care
Skin problems in palliative care

Max Watson

, Rachel Campbell

, Nandini Vallath

, Stephen Ward

, and Jo Wells

Page of

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date: 22 August 2019

This chapter discusses skin disorders. Skin disorders affect patients with early and advanced malignant and non-malignant disease. In addition to distressing physical symptoms, the appearance of pressure sores, malignant wounds, and lymphoedema impact on patients’ social functioning, mood, and quality of life. Meticulous and prompt management of symptoms can make a huge difference. There is a growing body of research into drug treatments for pruritus in palliative care, and interventions for managing lymphoedema and wounds more effectively. Key principles in the management of wound care, lymphoedema, and pruritus are examined. Skin wounds are common in advanced malignancy. Pressure ulcers are most frequently seen, affecting an estimated one-third or more of patients in palliative care units. Malignant/fungating wounds occur in approximately 5–10% patients with metastatic cancer and are associated with significant physical and psychological distress. Loco-regional skin involvement (e.g. breast fungation) should be distinguished from generalized skin metastases which imply advanced disease.

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