Skin Cancer

Painless Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Treatment

Surgery has long been the most common way to treat for non-melanoma skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. However, now external radiation therapy (XRT) is showing great promise, particularly for individuals who are unable to undergo surgery or were being treated for recurrence of the disease after surgery. Clinical studies, have revealed that only 5 percent of patients who were initially treated with XRT only experienced a local recurrence of the disease. And just 12 percent of patients treated with XRT after skin cancer return following surgery experienced a recurrence. High dose rate (HDR) implants also are increasing as a treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer. The advantage compared to XRT is that the course of radiation can be given in six to 10 treatments with HDR as opposed to 20 to 30 XRT treatments.

Both XRT and HDR are painless treatment techniques and leave no scar, unlike surgery for skin cancer. These non-invasive treatments can be delivered in 30 minutes or less.

Personalized treatments at Palo Verde Cancer Specialists and Phoenix Cyberknife

With 3 convenient locations in the Valley, our doctors carefully tailor treatments to ensure you receive the best results. Our advanced technology allows our doctors to device a unique plan specific to you and customize molds to treat your skin cancer and avoid the healthy tissue. In some cases, radiation therapy may be recommended after surgery to help prevent the cancer from coming back.

Who are the ideal candidates for radiation treatment?

  • Patients with non-melanoma skin cancer who do not want surgery
  • Patients who aren’t interested in having surgery
  • Patients who are not surgical candidates for medical reasons (e.g. blood thinning medication, allergic to local anesthesia or healing difficulties associated with diabetes)
  • Patients who require additional radiation treatment for aggressive skin cancers following surgical treatments
  • Patients with challenging anatomical locations (e.g. eyes, nose, ears or scalp)
  • Anyone who has been told they may require plastic surgery after the removal of the cancer to cover surgical defect
  • Anyone who does not want a scar

What can I expect if I’m treated with radiation therapy?

All of the radiation therapy administered to you will be under the direction of our experienced radiation oncologists. The simple outpatient treatment regimen depend on your tumor size, type, depth, your age, prior treatments and other criteria. An individualized treatment plan is developed for each of our patients. We have three different methods in which we can treat your skin cancer: High Dose Radiation (HDR) Brachytherapy, Xoft Electonic Brachytherapy (eBx) and external beam. HDR Brachytherapy and Xoft eBX are used for small lesions that are close to the skin’s surface, whereas external beam is used for larger cancer or those that are deep in the dermis.

Length of Treatment

Treatments are on the average 10-15 minutes in length, which includes time to set the machine up in the correct position and five minutes to deliver the radiation. Treatment plans vary due to different factors: stage of cancer, size, depth and cartiledge involvement. Treatment time can range from two to seven weeks. Some may be five days a week and other may be two times a week. Your plan will be tailored for your needs to ensure the best possible outcome.

How effective is radiation therapy?

Radiation therapy offers a 90-98%+ cure rate with early stage basal and squamous cell carcinoma. This is an excellent treatment option for cancers in hard-to-treat places such as: ear, scalp, eyelid, tip of nose and or shin.

Side Effects

Two to three weeks after treatment, the most common side effects are skin redness, peeling and mild-to-moderate skin sensitivity in the area being treated. In the vast majority of patients, these symptoms will resolve within a few weeks after their treatment course is over. All of the radiation therapy administered to you will be under the direction of our experienced radiation oncologists. The simple outpatient treatment regimen depends on your tumor size, type, depth, your age, prior treatments and other criteria. An individualized treatment plan is developed for each of our patients. We have three different methods in which we can treat your skin cancer: High Dose Radiation (HDR) Brachytherapy, Xoft Electonic Brachytherapy (eBx) and external beam. HDR Brachytherapy and Xoft eBX are used for small lesions that are close to the skin’s surface, whereas external beam is used for larger cancer or those that are deep in the dermis.

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