• Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. The most common predisposing factor is sun exposure. The most common types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma (65%), squamous cell carcinoma (30%), and melanoma (1.5%).
• Treatment options include cryotherapy, curettage/electrodesiccation, surgical excision, radiation therapy, Moh’s microsurgery, and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is the treatment of choice for skin cancers of the ear, nose, eyelid, or lip. With larger skin cancers of the face, radiation therapy usually results in a superior cosmetic outcome.
• We have multiple options available to us at our centers to tailor radiation treatment to skin cancers of different sites and types. Orthovoltage radiation therapy, electron beam radiation therapy, as well as IMRT (intensity-modulated radiation therapy) are available for skin cancer radiation treatment. In addition, we have experience in custom boluses and blocking as well as special eye shields specific to treating skin cancers near the eye.
• The results of treatment of basal cell and squamous cell cancers of the skin are excellent with radiation therapy. Small lesions have a cure rate of 95% in most series. Larger lesions also do well, but many other factors impact treatment success. Melanoma is another type of skin cancer which is very aggressive and is treated surgically with certain exceptions.
How to spot basal and squamous cell skin cancers
Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are more common and not as dangerous as melanoma. They can develop anywhere, but they are most likely to form on the face, head, or neck.
A basal cell carcinoma may look like:
- a flat, firm, pale or yellow area of skin, similar to a scar
- a reddish, raised, sometimes itchy patch of skin
- small shiny, pearly, pink or red translucent bumps, which can have blue, brown, or black areas.
- pink growths that have raised edges and a lower center, and abnormal blood vessels may spread from the growth like the spokes of a wheel