Dry skin, photosensitivity, spots, scars, mucositis, hair loss or nail changes, are some common side effects in cancer treatments such as radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and hormone therapy.
How we see ourselves has an impact on our self-esteem, on how we relate to our environment and on the prognosis of the disease and quality of life. Hence the oncology aesthetic medicine play a key role in the management of cancer patients. This branch of medicine focuses on specializing in beauty and wellness, focusing on the external image and emotional impact of cancer patients and integrating other therapies that improve mental, physical and nutritional condition.
What worries patients the most – explains to ConSalud.es the specialist of the Medical Oncology service of the Fundación Jiménez Díaz University Hospital, the Dra. Eva Ruiz Hispanic – is the change in body image and how it will impact their quality of life and in the emotional and social sphere. Doctors, nurses, rehabilitators, nutritionists and psychologists, as well as associations such as the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) or the Group of Experts in Oncological Aesthetic Medicine (Gemeon) participate in this field with the aim that the benefits of aesthetic care reach all cancer patients.
“They recover their self-esteem to achieve proper social integration and return their lives to normal”
The profile of the patient who attends aesthetic care consultations is heterogeneous. Although it is assumed that the young women are the most concerned about aesthetic care, the reality is that physical well-being and beauty are important for most patients, regardless of age or gender and being a necessity that every day is demanded more in health systems.
“Thanks to the power of body image” cancer patients learn to take care of themselves, minimizing the possible consequences of treatment and achieving a physical and psychological well-being which results in a better quality of life. “In this way, they recover their self-esteem to achieve proper social integration and return their lives to normal,” the expert clarifies.
Aesthetic care begins even before treatments. “We explain how to prepare the skin, mucous membranes and nails, avoiding irritants and sensitizers and using protective and reparative cosmetics”. While the treatment is being administered and once it has finished, professionals advise patients on how to cope with dry skin, protect themselves from the action of the sun or cover imperfections with corrective makeup. They also help find a new body image when hair falls out, through head scarves and wigs, or tattoos and eyebrows. “In addition, we explain the physical exercises that they must perform, accompanied by proper nutrition and psychological support,” says Dr. Ruiz.
Aesthetic care can even affect cancer mortality
The scientific evidence highlights the beneficial role – or even therapeutic – that aesthetics and cosmetics play in the management of some adverse effects produced by oncological treatments. Benefits that go beyond “looking good”. Aesthetic care during cancer treatments prepare and strengthen the skin, reducing the impact of skin toxicity of antineoplastic treatments, which can cause xerosis, pruritus, erythema, paronychia, fissures, rashes, hyperkeratosis, radiodermatitis or photosensitivity. Avoiding these symptoms increases adherence to treatment and patients recover their image or, alternatively, “find a new one”, thus improving their quality of life.
“Also, incorporating a change in lifestyle, seeking well-being with nutrition, exercise, sleep and mental health”, tolerance to treatments is improved and can even affect recurrence or survival. cancer mortality.
For all the above, aesthetic oncology medicine stands as a area in “constant development that increasingly worries the teams that care for cancer patients and the patients themselves, who request it as part of their treatment”. “This encourages different branches of aesthetics in oncology to be expanded and studied,” concludes the FJD oncologist.
Because health we all need… ConSalud.es