Systemic antibiotics for treating malignant wounds

Authors: Ramasubbu DA, Smith V, Hayden F, Cronin P.

Source: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD011609. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011609.pub2.

Objectives: To assess the effects of systemic antibiotics for treating malignant wounds.

Background: Malignant wounds are a devastating complication of cancer. They usually develop in the last six months of life, in the breast, chest wall or head and neck regions. They are very difficult to treat successfully, and the commonly associated symptoms of pain, exudate, malodour, and the risk of haemorrhage are extremely distressing for those with advanced cancer. Treatment and care of malignant wounds is primarily palliative, and focuses on alleviating pain, controlling infection and odour from the wound, managing exudate and protecting the surrounding skin from further deterioration. In malignant wounds, with tissue degradation and death, there is proliferation of both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria. The aim of antibiotic therapy is to successfully eliminate these bacteria, reduce associated symptoms, such as odour, and promote wound healing.

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