Five RCTs (n=645) were included in the review.
Overall, the included studies demonstrated several methodological limitations: a lack of reporting of the methods used to randomise patients, concealment of allocation, blinding, sample size and handling of losses to follow-up. The authors also noted clinical limitations, such as variations in the frequency and timing of application, lack of information on the intervention itself and cointerventions.
One study (n=45) of children with cancer reported that anionic phospholipid-based cream was statistically significantly more effective than Aloe vera for skin comfort and dermatological assessment, but no change in toxicity score was found. This study was only available as an abstract.
One study (n=225) of women with breast cancer reported that aqueous cream was statistically significantly more effective in reducing dry desquamation and treatment-related pain than Aloe vera gel. Allergic reactions were experienced by two patients receiving Aloe vera and one patient receiving aqueous cream.
One study (n=73) of patients with various cancers reported contradictory results between Aloe vera gel and unscented soap.
Two studies (n=302) reporting on the same population of women with breast cancer did not show that Aloe vera gel was effective in comparison with placebo or no treatment, respectively. Allergic reactions were experienced by three patients receiving Aloe vera gel and one receiving placebo.