Melatonin for prevention of breast radiation dermatitis: A phase II, prospective, double-blind randomized trial

Merav A. Ben-David, Ruth Elkayam, Ilana Gelernter, Raphael M. Pfeffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background: Radiation-induced dermatitis is commonly seen during radiotherapy for breast cancer. Melatonin-based creams have shown a protective effect against ultravioletinduced erythema and a radioprotective effect in rats. Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of melatonin-containing cream in minimizing acute radiation dermatitis. Methods: In this phase II, prospective, randomized, placebocontrolled double-blind study, patients who underwent breastconserving surgery for stage 0-2 breast cancer were randomly allocated to melatonin emulsion (26 women) or placebo (21 women) for twice daily use during radiation treatment and 2 weeks following the end of radiotherapy. All women received 50 Gy whole breast radiation therapy with 2 Gy/fx using computed tomography-based 3D planning. Patients were examined and completed a detailed questionnaire weekly and 2 weeks following the end of treatment. Results: The occurrence of grade 1/2 acute radiation dermatitis was significantly lower (59% vs. 90%, P = 0.038) in the melatonin group. Women older than 50 had significantly less dermatitis than younger patients (56% vs. 100%, P = 0.021). The maximal radiation dermatitis in the study group was grade 2 in 15% of the treated patients. Conclusions: Patients treated with melatonin-containing emulsion experienced significantly reduced radiation dermatitis compared to patients receiving placebo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-192
Number of pages5
JournalIsrael Medical Association Journal
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast radiation
  • Breast-conserving therapy
  • Melatonin
  • Radiation dermatitis
  • Radiation side effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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