Radiation Therapy for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
Radiation therapy involves the use of X-rays to destroy cancer cells. This procedure requires 15 to 30 visits to a facility for treatment with special X-ray equipment. The skin cancer is destroyed gradually. Radiation therapy may be used in combination with other types of therapy to treat aggressive or recurrent skin cancer.
What To Expect After Treatment
Recovery time may vary depending on the site treated and the amount of radiation used.
Why It Is Done
Radiation therapy is not commonly used to treat skin cancer. It may be used:
How Well It Works
Treatment with radiation therapy for skin cancer is usually reserved for people who cannot—or choose not to—have other treatments, such as excision or curettage and electrosurgery. Small studies found that recurrence rates decrease (from over 50% to between 20% and 25%) when radiation therapy is used after excision surgery to treat incompletely removed squamous cell carcinoma.1
Risks of radiation therapy to treat skin cancer include the following:
Side effects are common but typically go away when treatment is finished. They include:
What To Think About
Radiation therapy is not commonly used to treat skin cancer.
Radiation therapy may be considered when:
Radiation therapy is most often reserved for use in older adults. It may lead to other skin cancers in younger people as they age.
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