Radiation therapy for skin cancer treatment has been around for many decades and is part of a combination of procedures for treating skin cancer. It uses high energy rays or particles that are aimed to destroy cancerous cells in the skin. This treatment entails the use of appropriate equipment to direct the rays onto the targeted area.
Radiation therapy takes the place of surgery when the area of the skin is inoperable with surgery or the tumor is large and surgery takes longer than allowed. It can also take the place of other treatment procedures, such as when the patient is unable to be treated with non-surgical procedures due to health reasons. This therapy is often used to treat small basal or squamous cell cancers. It helps prevent cancer cells from growing further and reaching the advanced stage.
Radiation therapy comes handy when surgery cannot remove the smallest of the cancerous cells. It is used in combination with surgical or other forms of skin cancer treatment to kill the remaining cells that are impossible to remove as it is in its original form. The result is the low possibility of cancer recurring at a later date.
When skin cancer has spread to other organs of the body, such as lymph nodes and liver, this therapy can provide the much-needed respite or in some cases complete cure. In fact, the side effects of skin cancer respond very well to radiation therapy treatment in people whose immune system is not compromised or they are otherwise healthy.
The rays emitting from the radiation equipment is focused on the area to be treated for skin cancer. This is usually performed with a type of radiation called electron beam radiation. The electrons that are emitted from the device don’t penetrate deeper into the skin than required. Radiation therapy when done correctly is deemed safe for the very reason that the rays cause little to no side effects on the adjacent organs or nearby body tissues.
Much like X-rays, radiation therapy uses rays that are stronger and hence need to be directed precisely on the tumor or cancer cells. The procedure can be less painful than surgery. The entire treatment lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes or less. However, getting an appointment, prepping up the equipment and other formalities might take a little longer.
As mentioned earlier, radiation therapy responds well to healthy patients. In any case, every issue should be assessed for factors beyond the known components as well. For more information radiation therapy click here.
Radiation therapy comes with side effects but is limited to the area being treated. Some of the side effects may include but not limited to, skin irritation, peeling and blistering of the skin, change in skin tone or color, teeth damage, salivary gland damage and hair loss around the treated area.
The side effects may be even worse with a longer period of treatment. Radiation, as implied by its name, can cause an adverse reaction on the skin that is beyond those mentioned above, even cause cancer to recur in the same area or different areas than treated. For this and many other reasons, its use is limited to aging individuals, those who are in their 40s or older.
Additionally, this therapy is not recommended for patients who have inherited health conditions like Xeroderma Pigmentosum or basal cell nevus syndrome. Such individuals are at higher risk of developing other types of cancers. Also, people with health disorders like lupus are not given radiation as their condition will make the matter worse than before.