Honey beneficial for treatment of fungating tumor wounds

Surviving cancer is physically and emotionally exhausting. But for many patients, beating the disease itself is just the first hurdle. A second ordeal comes from living with the fungating tumor wounds that accompany various cancers. Aside from the pain they inflict, these wounds often emit a strong and offensive odor. Not only does going into public become potentially embarrassing, but it also can be extremely depressing when even close family members are repulsed by the smell.

At the 2010 Symposium on Advanced Wound Care (SAWC) and the Wound Healing Society (WHS), an international conference drawing clinicians from all over the globe, which was held April 17-20 in Orlando, a clinician presented a series of cases illustrating the benefits of MEDIHONEY® dressings not only in the treatment of fungating tumor wounds but in eliminating their odor and the stigma that goes with it. MEDIHONEY® dressings are a unique key line of products whose active ingredient is medical-grade active Leptospermum honey (ALH), indigenous to New Zealand, that can succeed in alleviating wounds when other treatments have failed. Princeton-based Derma Sciences, Inc. owns the global rights to MEDIHONEY.

Malodor in a fungating tumor wound has been attributed to the presence of anaerobic organisms that thrive in areas of superficial and deep necrosis. The odor emanates from the unstable fatty acids released as a metabolic byproduct of the anaerobic bacteria. Among its other effects, MEDIHONEY has been reported to effectively reduce and even eradicate odor in acute and chronic wounds as a result to the preferential metabolism of honey's glucose, which produces lactic acid, instead of amino acids, which produce malodorous ammonia, amines and sulfur compounds.

The investigator, Debbie Segovia RN, MSN, APRN-CNS, CWOCN, examined two women aged 44 and 60 at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa. The 44-year-old, with locally advanced ductal carcinoma, sought treatment for bilateral breast wounds. Silver sulfadiazine and Dakin's 0.25% solution proved ineffective for exudate and odor management. After cleansing and rinsing, caregivers applied a MEDIHONEY dressing, which was changed daily. The necrotic slough tissue was rapidly debrided and the odor was immediately eradicated. In addition, the anti-inflammatory effect of the honey provided an "analgesic" effect, resulting in decreased wound pain associated with the wound itself and the dressing change procedure. The right breast wound completely healed and the left breast wound continued to progress toward healing.

Segovia's 60-year-old patient, with invasive local duct carcinoma grade 3 and lymphedema of the right arm, sought treatment for a right breast wound. Previous treatment included naturopathic medicine. She presented with several open wounds with a small amount of serous exudates, malodor, and slough tissue. Once again, after cleansing and rinsing, a MEDIHONEY dressing was applied, which was changed every three days. Once again, the necrotic slough tissue was rapidly debrided and malodor was immediately eradicated. The wound healed by the third dressing change.

"Eliminating secondary obstacles faced by cancer patients, such as malodor, ought to be a key component of any course of treatment where fungating tumor wounds are present," said Nurse Segovia. "These cases indicate that MEDIHONEY can play a powerful role in facilitating this type of positive outcome."

SOURCE Derma Sciences, Inc.


  1. Helen Helen Australia says:

    A friend has a fungating tumour on her chin that now measures approx. 6cm across and protrudes about 12cms.  She is on a very, very cleansing diet and has been for a year...what are the chances of surviving such a huge tumour.  There is no metastising and it is not a melanoma, but the laboratory can't "name" the cancer.  Helen

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