While radiation therapy is a common treatment for skin cancer, it’s not necessary in every situation. For instance, if a cancerous lesion can be fully removed through surgery, radiation therapy might not be needed. However, if you have surgery and your surgeon believes that cancerous cells may still be present, or if you decide not to have surgery, radiation therapy may be recommended for you.
Sometimes, radiation therapy can fully eliminate small basal and squamous cell skin cancers. In other instances, it may need to be combined with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy, to achieve the best possible outcome.
Because there may be many options for your skin cancer treatment, it’s best for you to talk with an experienced oncologist to determine which approach is most appropriate for your specific situation.
How does radiation therapy work?
Before you decide to have radiation therapy, you may find it helpful to understand how it works. Radiation therapy destroys cancerous cells by exposing them to powerful ionizing radiation. For certain cancers, radiation therapy can be administered internally, with a small radioactive implant, but skin cancer is usually treated with radiation generated from an external source. With external beam radiation therapy, radiation oncologists can tailor the treatment to help ensure that the radiation does not go any deeper than the skin.
The treatment process itself is not painful, but you may notice some redness, tenderness or irritation in your skin after each session. You might also experience fatigue, nausea and other similar side effects, which should go away after you’ve completed radiation therapy for your skin cancer.
If you’d like to get an oncologist’s opinion regarding your skin cancer treatment options, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to request an appointment at Moffitt. A physician’s referral is not required.