Non-surgical Skin Cancer Treatment – Radiation Therapy
Skin cancer treatment with radiation is administered at California Skin Institute by a radiation technologist under the direct supervision of a board-certified radiation oncologist who specializes in radiation treatment of skin cancer. The treatment regimen consists of multiple treatment sessions that vary based on the tumor size, depth, and location. Prior to your first treatment, a radiation physicist together with the radiation oncologist develop a customized treatment plan for each patient. In addition, custom shielding is created to optimize the delivery of radiation to the area of the skin cancer and protect the adjacent normal tissue. Treatments take place three times per week and take less than ten minutes. The treatments are painless. At the completion of the quick treatment, the x-ray source is turned off and the shield is removed. The patient is able to drive themselves home and immediately return to normal activities. As a superficial skin treatment localized to the skin cancer, there is no radiation exposure to other areas of your body.
Radiation Treatment Comparison to Surgical Treatment
Radiation therapy is a non-invasive alternative to surgical treatment and does not require needles, cutting, or stitches. With cure rates up to 97.5%, its success is similar to surgical excision and approaches the cure rate of Mohs Surgery without the risks of infection, distortion of anatomy, or unpredictable scarring. Radiation treatment provides an excellent cosmetic outcome through optimizing the number and strength of radiation treatments. Skin cancers that are aggressive, rapidly growing, deep, recurrent, or present in younger patients will more commonly be treated by Mohs Surgery or excision.
Ideal Candidates for Radiation Treatment:
- Patients who are not interested in having surgery
- Patients who are not surgical candidates for medical reasons (i.e. blood thinners)
- Patients concerned about scarring or distortion from surgery
- Patients who require additional treatment for aggressive skin cancers following surgical treatment
- Patients with positive margins after excision to reduce the risk of recurrence
For consultation appointments and more information on radiation therapy for skin cancer treatment:
Please call 855-CSI-INFO to speak with a staff member. Based on your history, an appointment will be made with one of our dermatologists or radiation oncologists.
Electronic Radiation Treatment for Skin Cancer FAQs
Q: May I drive myself to my radiation therapy appointment?
A: Yes. Your activities are unlimited before and after treatment.
Q: Are radiation treatments painful?
A: No. Radiation treatments are completely painless. In fact, the treatments cause no sensation at all.
Q: Will I lose my hair or have nausea and vomiting?
A: No. Radiation only causes side effects where it is delivered. Any part of the body outside of the treatment area is completely unaffected.
Q: What are the common short-term side effects of skin radiation treatments?
A: Near the completion of the source of therapy the skin may become somewhat red and irritated, similar to a sunburn. The skin irritation typically resolves very quickly after the treatment is completed.
Q: Does skin radiation cause scarring?
A: No. It is possible that the skin in the treated area may be slightly darker or lighter but this is usually very minimal. The cosmetic outcome is excellent in the vast majority of cases.
Q: Isn’t radiation dangerous? Doesn’t radiation cause cancer?
A: Radiation is like any other tool: used properly it is completely safe and therapeutic. Radiation in a therapeutic dose poses no risk of causing secondary cancers elsewhere in the body.
Q: Will other organs in my body be exposed to radiation?
A: No. Fortunately, radiation for skin cancer can be delivered very superficially and does not affect any other organs of the body. Only the area in the treatment field is exposed.
Q: Can I receive another course of radiation therapy in the future if I need it?
A: Yes. Radiation can be delivered to new skin cancers or other parts of the body without difficulty.
Q: Is radiation therapy for skin cancer a new or experimental treatment?
A: No. Radiation as a treatment for skin cancer has been proven extremely effective with regard to both cure and cosmetic outcome for many decades. Electronic brachytherapy is, however, the newest and most accurate method of delivering this time-proven therapy.