About the Condition
Dupuytren’s disease is a benign thickening of the palm’s or finger’s connective tissue, which leads to the fingers of the hand becoming bent or curled down towards the palm or wrist. This often leads to the hand becoming ‘claw-like’, and can cause significant problems in day-to-day life, although the condition is not usually painful.
People with Dupuytren’s contracture often have a hard time picking up large objects, or placing their hands into their pockets, something you might do on an everyday basis to retrieve coins, cash, or your ID card. If you have this condition, you may also find it difficult to place your hand flat on the table, wear gloves, or shake hands, among other things.
The cause of Dupuytren’s contracture, also called Dupuytren’s disease, is unknown, but certain risk factors have been identified, including:
- Having family members who have suffered from the disease
- Being of Northern European or Scandinavian descent
- Drinking a lot of alcohol
- Having diabetes
- Having seizures, such as those seen in people with epilepsy
Dupuytren’s contracture is more common in men than women, particularly those over age 40. Your chances of developing it increase as you get older.
The symptoms of Dupuytren’s contracture are fairly noticeable, and have a very linear progression, which is as follows:
- Formations of lumps under the skin in the palm of the hand, which may feel tender or sore at first.
- Fingers, usually the little and ring fingers, begin to bend or “curl” towards the wrists.
- It becomes difficult, if not impossible, to straighten the fingers.
It is vital that you see a doctor as soon as symptoms start appearing, as if caught early Dupuytren’s contracture can be treated very effectively by the radiotherapy techniques employed at Cancer Centre London.
At Cancer Centre London, Dupuytren’s contracture is treated expertly with a two-phase radiotherapy protocol that goes as follows:
- Phase One – five radiotherapy treatments, either once a day or ever other day
- Phase Two – repetition of phase one, after eight weeks without treatment. During phase two the radiotherapy is sometimes applied to a smaller area than during phase one.
Unlike surgery where the hands will be out of action for at least two weeks, there are no restrictions in using the hands during and after radiotherapy treatment. Each radiotherapy treatment takes about two mins per hand.
Numerous investigations have been undertaken into the effectiveness of radiotherapy treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture and these studies reveal that up to 90% of patients with early stage disease respond positively to radiotherapy. In one clinical trial, this positive outcome (of either no disease progression, or, in some cases, disease regression), has been demonstrated to continue in nearly 70% of patients to 13 years and they never have to undergo any further treatment.
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