Advanced Skin Cancer Treatment at Astera
For many types of early stage non-melanoma skin cancers, radiation is an excellent treatment option, including for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma cancers.
Astera Skin Cancer Treatment – You Have Options
At Astera, our radiation oncologists use two main types of radiation therapy to treat skin cancer, depending on the size and location of the cancer: brachytherapy and external beam radiation.
With high dose rate brachytherapy, we use advanced computer-based planning and treatment to deliver a high dose of radiation directly to the skin cancer. We place small radioactive “seeds” temporarily on the cancer to concentrate the dose on the skin’s surface, while minimizing exposure to healthy deep tissues or organs. Our highly effective treatments have minimal long-term side effects, and help prevent skin scarring.
External Electron Beam Radiation
For skin cancers larger in size or located in areas where brachytherapy isn’t possible, our specialists treat the cancer safely and effectively with electron beam radiotherapy.
Choosing Between Brachytherapy and Surgical Excision
Both surgical excision and brachytherapy offer excellent rates of tumor control, but in cosmetically sensitive areas like the face, surgical excision can leave scars or defects that require reconstruction with skin grafts. That’s why Astera chooses brachytherapy as a fast, painless and well-tolerated treatment for our patients, resulting in virtually no long-term scarring.
How Astera Delivers Brachytherapy
We administer brachytherapy as an outpatient procedure, directly supervised by one of our specially trained radiation oncologists.
First, we position a shielded applicator directly over the skin being treated, and connect it to a computer-controlled robotic device that contains the radioactive seed.
Next, we program the robotic device to position the radioactive seed into the applicator to deliver a specific radiation dose precisely to the cancer. Your radiation oncologist remains in constant communication with you through an intercom as they monitor the entire process.
Our typical course of treatment is 7 sessions, which we deliver approximately 2–3 times per week. Your total number of sessions may vary depending on your individualized treatment plan. We deliver each treatment session in just a few short minutes.
What Are the Side Effects of Brachytherapy for Skin Cancer?
Overall, our brachytherapy skin cancer treatments are very well tolerated. During treatment, you may experience limited skin redness, itching, or peeling. These changes occur gradually, are usually mild, and heal soon after treatment. Long-term side effects are rare, but they include minor cosmetic issues, such as:
- A slight change in color of the treated skin
- A possible minor scar at the tumor site
- Hair loss at the treatment site
External Electron Beam Radiation at Astera
For larger skin cancers or those located on areas of the body that cannot be treated with brachytherapy, external beam radiation is an excellent treatment option. We deliver electron beams through the same linear accelerators we use to deliver conventional photon radiation. Electron beams are unique in that they deposit the radiation dose near the surface of the skin without deep penetration into healthy tissues or organs. This allows for treatments that are
very well tolerated, with a total treatment course ranging from 3–4 weeks.