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radiation field (in blue) surrounding a small squamous cell cancer

Radiation Therapy for Skin Cancer

Radiation therapy has been used for years to treat skin cancer with excellent results. Originally the machines produced weak Xray energies (KV) and were referred to as superficial machines. Most patients now are treated with electron beam ( 6 or 9 Mev electrons from a linear accelerator) or using new brachytherapy techniques (usually HDR or iridium machines). Conventional radiation is given daily for 3 to 6 weeks depending on the size of the cancer and the sensitivity of the underlying skin. (A large cancer over thin, delicate skin may be better treated slowly.) Using newer techniques (see HDR below) certain cancers can be treated with techniques that may only require 6 treatments given every other day.

     Radiation Technique and Dose
     Rationale for using Radiation
     HDR for Skin Cancer here, dose, here, protocols: #1, #2
     Treatment Comparisons
     Results with Radiation
      More results with Radiation
            Radiation for cancers on the ear
            Radiation for eyelid cancer
            Radiation for Lip Cancer
            Radiation for cancer on the Nose
     Postoperative Radiation (after surgery)
     Radiation for locally advanced skin cancers

The NCCN   published guidelines on the treatment of skin cancers. They describe a high risk area of the face, other basal cell risk factors, guidelines for treating low risk, for treating high risk and recommended doses of radiation.

They limit the use of radiation to people aged 55 or older. They also define risk groups for squamous, and guidelines for treatment of low risk and treatment of high risk patients.