Cochrane Summaries

Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.

Topical agents and dressings for fungating wounds (ulcers caused by cancer)

Adderley UJ, Holt IGS
Published Online: 
15 May 2014

Fungating wounds sometimes occur in people with advanced cancer. Care usually aims to slow down disease progression, and improve quality of life by relieving the physical symptoms caused by the wounds (leakage, bad smell, pain and the risk of haemorrhage) by means of appropriate dressings and other applied treatments. There is weak evidence to suggest that a 6% solution of miltefosine, applied as a fluid to small, superficial fungating wounds on the breast (in people with breast cancer who had previously had either radiotherapy, surgery, hormone therapy or chemotherapy) may slow down the progression of the disease (i.e. extend the time to disease progression). There is also weak evidence to suggest that foam dressings containing silver may be effective in reducing bad smell. There is very little evidence in this area of medicine, however, and what there is is insufficient to give clear directions to practice for improving quality of life or managing wound symptoms in people with fungating wounds. More research is needed in this area.

This record should be cited as: 
Adderley UJ, Holt IGS. Topical agents and dressings for fungating wounds. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD003948. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003948.pub3
Assessed as up to date: 
2 August 2013