Non-melanoma skin cancer is a term used for all the cancer types that happen in the skin but are not melanoma. This includes several types of skin cancer including squamous cell skin cancers and basal cell carcinoma. In this article, we discuss some of the key non-melanoma skin cancer treatments and their key characteristics.
Surgery as a non-melanoma skin cancer treatment involves the removal of the tumor and any surrounding tissue. Often with skin cancer, surgery can completely remove the cancer cells and no further treatment is required.
The surgical procedure selected is largely dependent on the type of skin cancer present and the part of the body it is located on. Small procedures require only local anesthetic and can be carried out by a wide range of medical practitioners outside of a hospital.
More extensive surgeries that involve lymph node biopsies need to be carried out under general anesthesia in an operating room. This is often the case for Merkel cell cancer.
Radiation therapy is sometimes used in non-melanoma skin cancer treatment for a number of reasons. If the cancer is located in a place that’s difficult to reach such as the tip of the nose, ear, or eyelid where surgery may not be a treatment option.
Additionally, radiotherapy can be used in conjunction with surgery. In these cases, it can stop cancer cells from growing back after the removal of the tumor. Radiotherapy is often used for Merkel cell cancer after surgery for stage I and II cancer in a process known as adjuvant therapy.
External Beam Radiation
External beam radiation is the most common radiation therapy treatment type. The radiation is given from a machine outside the body, in a regime of treatments offered over a set period of time.
This form of non-melanoma skin cancer treatment delivers radiation with impeccable precision. This allows the positioning to be extremely accurate, meaning healthy tissue can be spared whilst the tumour still receives significant radiation.
Brachytherapy as a non-melanoma skin cancer treatment offers excellent cosmetic results but it is also excellent at stopping the skin cancer from returning. Brachytherapy reduces the radiation that healthy tissue is exposed to when compared to external beam radiotherapy and can be delivered in a shorter treatment time.
This is a combination treatment used for actinic keratoses in which a topical medication is applied followed by exposure to a special light-emitting device. The exposure to this device can happen over minutes or hours and can be very painful.
Chemotherapy for non-melanoma skin cancer treatment involves applying drugs to the skin every day for several weeks. These topical treatments can cause side effects such as burning, irritation and itching but they do not cause scars which is why they are often used for cancers located on the face.
Papillon+ ™: X-Ray Brachytherapy
The Papillon+ ™ replaces traditional isotopes for low energy X-rays allowing for targeted treatment with nominal cosmetic issues. The range of applicators and irregular shielding solution allows for good cosmetic results as well as intricate treatments such as nose and eyelid.