Childhood Cancer

Childhood Cancer Survivors

Chapter 18. Skin, Breasts, and Hair

It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.

Alice,  Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

THE HUMAN BODY IS WRAPPED in a waterproof covering called skin. Skin, hair, and nails are part of this covering, which is called the integumentary system. This system has several important functions. It protects the body by keeping fluids in and foreign organisms out. It insulates the body and helps regulate body temperature. Pigments in the skin help protect the body from sunlight’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Nerve endings in the skin allow it to sense heat, cold, pain, and pressure.

Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can all cause short- and long-term changes in the skin, breasts, and hair. This chapter describes these changes, how they are diagnosed, and the most common methods used to manage them.