FREEHOLD – CentraState Medical Center is offering a new, non-surgical treatment for certain types of localized skin cancer.
Skin brachytherapy uses radiation to destroy cancer without the need to cut into the skin, often resulting in a superior cosmetic outcome.
“A woman in her 80s recently came to see me because she had a small skin cancer lesion on her nostril that needed treatment,” Dr. Edward Soffen said in a statement released by CentraState. “She was worried that having it surgically removed would leave a scar on a very prominent area of her face. In order to undergo surgery, she would also have to temporarily stop taking an important medication to prevent blood clots.”
Skin cancer is, by far, the most common type of cancer. Nearly 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
The two most common types of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma — are generally localized and highly treatable. However, they frequently occur on areas of the body that get a lot of sun exposure, including the face, nose and lips, according to the statement.
During skin brachytherapy, a specially designed circular applicator is placed over the area being treated. The applicator is hooked up via a tube to a machine that precisely delivers a tailored radiation dose directly to the tumor, according to the statement. State-of-the-art imaging and computer-based planning are used to help ensure the radiation destroys cancer cells while minimizing exposure and potential damage to surrounding, healthy tissues. The procedure should cause no pain.
Each treatment lasts about five to 10 minutes, and patients generally undergo seven treatments in a little over two weeks. In the weeks following the treatments, dead skin from the lesion gradually flakes off, leaving healthy skin with almost no likelihood of scarring and a very low likelihood of cancer coming back, according to CentraState.
“In fact, the procedure is so quick and convenient, we have successfully treated hospital employees who were able to receive treatments during their lunch break. I have also seen many patients who had multiple lesions surgically removed in the past. They were thrilled to have a less-invasive alternative that is equally as effective as surgery,” Soffen said.
Traditional treatments, including surgical removal and cryotherapy (freezing), can leave unsightly scars in highly visible areas. Instead, skin brachytherapy is potentially a good alternative for patients who have small (2 cm or less), early stage basal cell or squamous cell lesions on the surface of the skin; are worried about the cosmetic outcome of having cancer surgically removed; are worried about the functional outcome of having cancer surgically removed from areas such as the eyelids and tear ducts; and/or not good candidates for surgery because of other health conditions.
The procedure is not recommended for larger lesions or those that have grown deep under the skin, according to the statement. It is also not a treatment for melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.
For more information about skin brachytherapy for the treatment of skin cancer and all other treatment options offered at The Statesir Cancer Center at CentraState Medical Center, call 855-411-CANCER or visit centrastate.com/skinbrachytherapy.