Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Basal cell and squamous cell skin carcinomas (and Bowen’s carcinoma in situ) are overwhelmingly the most common forms of skin cancer. If detected at an early stage, various treatment options are available with high likelihood of cure. While the great majority of skin cancers can be treated with surgical excision (Mohs procedures), a minority are of a more-advanced nature or may pose challenges for achieving an optimal medical or cosmetic outcome from surgery.
Tightly localized radiation treatment is an invaluable option for those skin cancers in surgically awkward locations, such as eyelids, nose, ears or lips, or which may be adjacent to tendons or other sensitive structures, and in sites of thin skin, such as the scalp or pretibial region. Irradiation treatment may also be recommended for those patients at greater risk for surgical excision, such as those with diabetes or requiring anti-coagulation therapy for cardiovascular conditions.
A small fraction of skin cancers are melanomas and far more dangerous. Treatment for melanoma typically requires surgical excision. Post-operative irradiation delivery is recommended for more-invasive tumors, using Tomotherapy delivery aimed at a larger tissue volume that often includes regional lymph nodes.
At Southwest Oncology Medical Centers, our dedicated physicians have worked closely with many dermatologists. We have long-term experience with electronic brachytherapy and with electron-beam and X-ray techniques for skin-cancer treatment This type of irradiation can also be offered as effective prophylaxis against the post-operative formation of bulky scar tissue in the skin of keloid-forming patients.
Skin Cancer Treatment with Irradiation
Our clinical facilities at Southwest Oncology Centers are fully dedicated to the personalized treatment of patients with non-melanoma skin cancers. We use superficially penetrating, low-energy irradiation to treat challenging lesions of the skin and the underlying subcutaneous tissues. We have achieved great success with these challenging cases (see Image Panels below).
Sites of Aggressive Skin Cancer
Right Scalp Vertex
Image Panel 1: 63-year-old man with multiple, deeply invasive, squamous cell and basal cell skin carcinomas of the right scalp vertex, left temple, right ear and forehead. The images in the upper row were taken pre-treatment. The images in the lower row demonstrate the excellent clinical and cosmetic results achieved following courses of tightly conformal irradiation to these scattered sites of aggressive skin cancer.
Image Panel 2: 78-year-old man with squamous cell carcinoma lesions of the left ear. invading into the ear’s cartilage. On the left is the pre-treatment image, with ink dots encircling the skin-cancer lesions. On the right, the post-treatment picture shows an excellent clinical and cosmetic result from conformal irradiation treatment.
Left Lower Lateral Lip
Image Panel 3: 70-year-old woman with a disfiguring squamous cell carcinoma lesion of her left lower lateral lip. The pre-treatment image on the left shows a deeply erosive lesion. The image on the right shows an excellent clinical and cosmetic result from conformal irradiation treatment.
Left Dorsal Hand
Image Panel 4: The pre-treatment image on the left shows a deeply erosive lesion. The image on the right shows an excellent clinical and cosmetic result from conformal irradiation treatment. The patient retained full functioning of the underlying extensor tendon. maintaining full range of movement and normal sensation in her hand and fingers.
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