Electronic Brachytherapy for Radiation
Swann Dermatology now offers a special type of radiation therapy in our office for treating skin cancers. The electronic brachytherapy we offer is not like traditional radiation therapy treatment. We utilize Esteya, a patient-friendly, electronic brachytherapy solution for treating skin cancer. Specifically designed for non-melanoma skin cancer treatments, Esteya provides a non-surgical treatment that destroys cancer cells while sparing healthy surrounding tissue. There’s minimal or no recovery period — which means there will be negligible impact on your daily activities.
For skin cancer treatments, your physician will consider your age, disease type and stage (how your disease has advanced), as well as cosmetic and functional impact, to determine which one or combination of modalities to recommend for your specific case:
- Radiotherapy – external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and brachytherapy (for example, Esteya electronic brachytherapy or high dose rate brachytherapy)
- Surgery – traditional excision and Mohs surgery, in which layers of skin are successively removed and examined microscopically until no cancer cells remain
- Topical therapies – photodynamic therapy, cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen), chemotherapy or immunotherapy creams, or mechanical destruction (ED&C)
Electronic brachytherapy places a radiation source directly at the cancerous lesion on the surface of the skin, to destroy the cancer cells while sparing the healthy surrounding tissue. This is an effective method for treating non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), including basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), particularly for cases involving a highly visible, functionally sensitive or challenging area. Electronic brachytherapy utilizes an x-ray tube to create radiation and may be delivered in your physician’s office.
Am I a Candidate for Electronic Brachytherapy?
If you answer yes to any of the following, ask your provider if you are a candidate:
- My NMSC is in a challenging location (such as eye lids, lips, ears, fingers, scalp or shin)
- My NMSC is in a highly visible location (such as face, hands or shoulders)
- I would prefer an alternative to skin cancer surgery (e.g., Mohs surgery or excision)
- I am on blood thinners, I am a smoker, I am diabetic or poor healer.
- I have an active lifestyle and can not tolerate surgical downtime.
Who Should I ask for Esteya Treatment?
Your radiation treatments are performed under the direction of a dermatologist and radiation therapist who is specially trained and experienced in skin cancer and radiation treatments. Treatments usually require 2 brief visits to your dermatologist per week for several weeks.
Common side effects may include temporary redness, dryness, itching or soreness in the treated area. Discuss the treatment options with your doctor to make an informed decision about your case.
How Does it Work?
The brachytherapy system brings a small x-ray source very close to your cancer lesion. Rather than surgically cutting tissue away, high dose rate (HDR) radiation is precisely focused at cancerous tissue to destroy it.
Treatments require just a few brief visits to your dermatologist or radiation oncology clinic. Skin cancer treatment requires an individualized approach. Your doctor will recommend a course of treatment and therapeutic modality based on your general health, age, medical history and the type, size and location of your cancer. Even in patients whose NMSC occurs in highly visible areas, electronic brachytherapy offers a new option with excellent cosmetic and clinical results. Mohs surgery offers the highest cure rate for treating skin cancers and is really considered first-line treatment for aggressive tumors, but Esteya is a great option for some non-melanoma skin cancers in difficult areas and offers excellent results.
What do the Results Look Like?
Electronic brachytherapy is non-surgical, so there is not a surgical scar. Nor is there hair loss, hearing loss, loss of smell or taste. The tumor does leave a mottled scar, but the results are surprisingly esthetic. More fractions can be utilized in highly esthetic areas such as the tip of the nose, in order to achieve the best functional and cosmetic result. For more information or to find out if Esteya electronic brachytherapy is right for you, call 417-888-0858 for a skin cancer consultation with one of our providers.