Dupuytren’s Disease


Dupuytren’s disease is when the tissue under the skin of the palm of the hand thickens and forms knots. 

These knots can cause the fingers to curl in permanently. Dupuytren’s Disease usually gets worse over time and makes it hard for people to fully open their fingers. This means the hand doesn’t work as well

Radiation Therapy and Dupuytren’s Disease

The best person to talk to about radiation therapy for Dupuytren’s Disease is a radiation oncologist. A radiation oncologist is a specialist doctor who is part of the team that takes care of people having radiation therapy.

You can ask your doctor for a referral to a radiation oncologist to learn if radiation therapy is an option for you.

The Treatment Team

Radiation oncologists (specialist doctors) make a treatment plan for each person based on:

  • the size of the Dupuytren’s contracture
  • where it is located
  • what other treatments have been tried
  • the person’s health.

The type of treatment a person gets is worked out by a team of doctors and health professionals often called a Multidisciplinary Team.

A highly trained radiation oncology team takes care of people having radiation therapy. This includes radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, medical physicists and radiation oncology nurses.

Treatments for Dupuytren’s Disease

Doctors can use physical therapy, injections or surgery to treat Dupuytren’s Disease. A doctor may suggest radiation therapy if other options don’t work or are not suitable.

During radiation therapy for Dupuytren’s disease the radiation oncologist focuses high energy x-ray beams on the affected area. This is called External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT).

The radiation therapy works by softening the thickened tissue and stopping it from getting worse. It sometimes takes a few months for the treatment to work.

The number of treatments doctors use for Dupuytren’s disease varies. People usually get a few treatments over several weeks. This ranges from 5-15 sessions. The radiation oncology team works out the right amount for each person.

General Information About Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is more effective with fewer side effects than ever before.

Recent advances mean radiation oncologists can effectively treat the Dupuytren’s contracture while getting less radiation on healthy body parts. This means much fewer side effects.

Side effects from radiation therapy vary between people, even for those having the same treatment.

While some people feel no side effects, some feel mild side effects, such as tiredness or skin redness during and/or just after treatment. These usually get better within a few weeks.

The treatment team will offer advice and medicine to help with side effects.

Serious side effects that start later (months to years after the radiation therapy) are rare.

Before starting treatment, your radiation oncologist will talk to you about side effects and answer your questions.

The side effects of radiation treatment can be split into 2 groups:

  1. Early side effects which occur during and shortly after radiation treatment.
  2. Late side effects which can occur months to years after radiation treatment.

For more information, go to the Potential Side Effects page.

Early side effects of radiation therapy may include:

Skin irritation: The skin around the treated area may become red, dry, or itchy and look swollen.

Late side effects vary between people and can happen a few months to a few years after treatment.

These side effects may occur once, continue over time, or come and go.

Stiff fingers: Radiation therapy can cause the joints of the finger to feel stiff or sore.

Skin changes: Lasting skin changes are usually cosmetic and can be managed. Sometimes, the treated skin looks slightly lighter or darker. Skin may also be thinner and feel different.

Hair loss: Hair in the treatment area may fall out during or after radiation therapy. This can be temporary or permanent.

Nerve damage: There is a very small chance of nerve damage and changes in sensation.

Find additional information about cancer types, research groups, and support groups.

Further Information
You can ask your Surgeon or General Practitioner for a referral to a Radiation Oncologist for a discussion about whether radiation therapy is a suitable treatment option for you.

Radiation Oncologist

The best person to talk to is a radiation oncologist. You can ask your doctor for a referral to find out if radiation treatment is right for you.

GPs and Health Professionals

Information for any health professional involved in a patient's cancer care with a particular focus on primary care providers.

Talking to Your Doctor

Your GP or other doctors in the cancer team can organise a referral to a radiation oncologist.

Treatment Centres

Search and find your closest Radiation Oncology Treatment Centre.

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