Radiation and Scleroderma

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
What is Radiation?
Immune System and Radiation
What is Scleroderma?
Radiation and Scleroderma
Radiation Complications in Scleroderma
Radiation Port Scleroderma
Personal Stories About Radiation


KaleidoscopeRadiation treatments can sometimes cause morphea, which is a localized form of scleroderma. Morphea generally looks like circular patches of hardened and discolored skin, with a lighter-colored center.

Importantly, radiation port morphea affects only the skin and not the internal organs. It is also treatable but it is important to catch it early as it is much easier to stop the progression of morphea than to clear up any damage that has already occurred.

What is Radiation?

What is Radiation Therapy? Radiation therapy uses ionizing radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. About half of all people with cancer are treated with radiation therapy, either alone or in combination with other types of cancer treatment. Radiation therapy may be external or internal. External radiation, the type most often used, comes from a machine outside the body, and is usually given on an outpatient basis. Internal radiation is implanted into or near the tumor in small capsules or other containers. National Cancer Institute.

Immune System and Radiation

What Are the Effects of Radiation on the Immune System? Radiation appears to have a modulating effect on the immune system, which can result in increased susceptibility to infections. WiseGeek.

What is Scleroderma?

What is Scleroderma? Scleroderma (sklare-oh-derma) means "hard skin." This complex disease involves tightening and thickening of the skin, blood vessel damage, inflammation and immune system changes. ISN.

Radiation and Scleroderma

There is an increased rate of cancer among scleroderma patients. Furthermore, scleroderma patients have an increased sensitivity to radiation treatments. In addition, radiation can cause scleroderma including Radiation Port Scleroderma. (Also see What is Scleroderma? and Cancer and Scleroderma)

Impact of Radiation Therapy on Scleroderma and Cancer Outcomes in Scleroderma Patients with Breast Cancer. These data suggest that radiation injury causing local tissue fibrosis is not inevitable in SSc patients with breast cancer, occurring in 50% of cases without evidence of lung or generalized skin disease flare. PubMed, Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken), 01/05/2018. (Also see Cancer)

Radiation Complications in Scleroderma Patients

There is an increased rate of cancer among scleroderma patients, and furthermore scleroderma patients have an increased sensitivity to radiation treatments.

Scleroderma and Cancer Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) may be associated with an increased incidence of cancer, including breast cancer, B-cell lymphoma, lung cancer and tongue cancer. ISN.

Radiation Port Scleroderma

Radiation treatments can cause morphea scleroderma, which is a type of scleroderma that affects only the skin (and not the internal organs). It is of utmost importance to treat morphea promptly because it can usually be stopped but seldom be entirely reversed.

(Case Report) Radiation-induced morphea of the breast. Any treatment modality should be started promptly to give the best outcome, as fibrosis and atrophy are not reversed by PUVA therapy. Early referral to a dermatologist is therefore recommended. Reconstructive surgery for morphea of the breast has been reported to give a good cosmetic result. Journal of Medical Case Reports.

(Case Report) Postirradiation morphea and subcutaneous polyarteritis nodosa. Postirradiation morphea is an uncommon condition but is being increasingly recognized. Related phenomena following radiation include postirradiation panniculitis and now postirradiation subcutaneous polyarteritis nodosa. Radiation may be responsible for inducing some of the pathogenic changes seen in scleroderma and other autoimmune diseases. PubMed, Semin Arthritis Rheum. (Also see Causes of Morphea and Associated Conditions: PAN)

Personal Stories Regarding Radiation

Brian D. Jessop: Scleroderma I am a Vietnam Vet from 1968 to 1970. I am from the Agent Orange time on the Saigon River and the Macon Delta Rivers…

Carrie: CREST Syndrome All this started in 1995, as far as receiving any diagnosis. First, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I went through radiation and chemotherapy…

Dotty: Scleroderma, Sjögren's, Parotid Lymphoma I have taken control of my life and I just know there is a wonderful future for me…

Kym: Diffuse, CREST Scleroderma, Lupus and Fibromyalgia It all started with Raynaud's in my fingers and toes when I was about nineteen years old, in 1979…

Jennifer Weldon: Systemic Scleroderma/Stem Cell Transplant Patient I was put on a ventilator and complete life support. I had five open heart surgeries…

Rachel: Morphea Scleroderma I have learned to control the use of addicting medication and to manage the pain as well as possible…

Sharon: CREST with Limited Scleroderma, Sjögren's and Pulmonary Hypertension (Australia) Day by day I discover another food I cannot eat…

Sue Ann: Mother of Son with Scleredema Scleredema is an illness similar to scleroderma. It is also known as Scleredema Adultorum, Scleredema Adultorum of Buschke, Scleredema Diabeticorum, and Scleredema Diabeticorum of Buschke..

Also see: Cancer and Scleroderma

Go to Causes of Scleroderma: Silica

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