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Radiation Oncologist Treats Rare Hand Condition

What is Dupuytren’s contracture?

Dupuytren’s contracture is a condition that affects the fibrous layer of tissue under the skin in the palm and fingers. The fascia thickens and tightens over time, which can cause contracture. It is a rare, benign condition that over time can cause the fingers to pull in toward the palm. It can lead to the inability to open the hand and can be pretty debilitating. 

What causes this condition?

Heredity is most common cause, but it may also be due to severe alcohol use and sometimes trauma to the hands. 

It occurs most frequently in Caucasian males, especially those who have Northern European heritage.

How does radiation therapy help Dupuytren’s?

There are not a lot of great treatment options for Dupuytren’s, as they do not treat the underlying cause. Treatments—like steroid injections, for instance—only treat the symptoms. 

However, radiation treatment is the only option that helps address the underlying cause by slowing the progression of contracture. There are data that show radiation can help prevent the condition progressing into contracture, if it is caught early. 

Many people wait until it is severe enough to seek care, but if the condition is too far advanced, surgery is the only option at that point. There is no cure for Dupuytren’s.

Is radiation treatment common for this condition? 

Radiation treatment for Dupuytren’s was pioneered in Germany, so there are not a lot of providers who have been trained in the U.S.  I am one of the only ones in the area who performs this very specialized treatment because I was fortunate enough in my residency to train with a radiation oncologist who had worked in Germany prior to coming to the United States.   

If you are concerned you might have Dupuytren’s contracture, please contact your healthcare provider for an examination. If you have been diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture and would like to learn more about treatment at Overlake, you may contact Radiation Oncology at (425) 688-5289.

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