Patients in Algonquin seek information on the costs and benefits of superficial radiation therapy for skin cancer
Posted by Dr. Vikram Khanna
Did you know that over 9 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the United States? Most of these skin cancers are squamous and basal cell, which are often more treatable than melanomas. Traditional treatment options typically involve cutting out the cancer and a margin of surrounding tissue, which can sometimes be disfiguring. Superficial radiation therapy (SRT) is a non-surgical alternative to traditional excisions and MOHS surgery. At Dermatology Specialists of Illinois in Algonquin, IL, we provide SRT as an option for many of our skin cancer patients.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the unrestrained growth of abnormal skin cells. While it can occur for several reasons, skin cancer is most commonly caused by overexposure to UV light from the sun or tanning beds. Genetics and age are also risk factors for skin cancer.
The different types of skin cancer are: basal, squamous, and melanoma. The first two, basal and squamous, are the most common and are much less likely to spread. They typically occur on areas of the body that receive the most UV exposure such as the head and neck. While these cancers are typically not life threatening, it is important to undergo regular screenings to catch them early, as traditional treatment can be disfiguring.
How radiation works
Chances are, you’ve heard about radiation therapy for other types of cancers. Radiation is a very important tool for doctors trying to treat cancers because the radiation alters the DNA of a cancerous cell and its ability to multiply, ultimately leading to the death of the cell.
How SRT therapy differs from traditional cancer radiation
SRT is a superficial, low-energy radiation that uses a precise beam to target the area just below the skin where the cancer cells are located. It is painless and highly effective at treating the targeted non-melanoma cancer cells while leaving the healthy tissue intact. SRT therapy is effective for non-melanoma skin cancers on the head and neck. In certain cases, it may also be used for skin cancers on the arms, back, stomach and legs.
SRT therapy can also be used for patients with keloids. Keloids are raised scars that can appear after an injury or surgery. While keloids are non-malignant, they can be unsightly and sometimes painful. SRT therapy destroys the cells that formed the keloid to smooth out the skin. Multiple sessions may be required, depending on the size of the keloid.
Some of the benefits of SRT therapy include:
- High cure rate like MOHs surgery
- Quick treatments
- No cutting
- No stitching
- Minimal scarring
- No anesthesia
- Faster healing
- No risk of post-surgical infections
- No reconstruction necessary
What to expect with SRT therapy for skin cancer
- SRT requires multiple sessions, depending on the size and location of the cancer.
- You will need to disclose any medications you are currently taking prior to SRT therapy.
- The actual procedure is similar to an X-ray. An applicator cone will be placed over the cancerous lesion and the radiation will be directed toward it.
- The actual treatment only takes about 90 seconds.
- The procedure is painless; however, redness of the skin and scabbing is normal in the weeks following therapy.
The cost of SRT therapy
The cost of SRT therapy varies, based upon insurance coverage and the extent of the treatment required. We can verify copays and coverage prior to beginning treatment. We can also work with you on CareCredit financing if necessary.
Why choose Dermatology Specialists of Illinois
Our team is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. Our goal is to ensure that patients receive the most advanced skin cancer treatments available. If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, we will work with you individually on the treatment plan that is best for your unique situation. In addition to SRT therapy, we also offer more traditional treatments such as surgical excision, electrodessication and curettage, topical chemotherapy, and injectable chemotherapy.
If you are searching for an alternative to skin cancer surgery in Algonquin, superficial radiation therapy may be the answer for you. If you would like to learn more about SRT therapy, call Dermatology Specialists of Illinois today to schedule an appointment.