Brachytherapy Used To Treat Elderly Skin Cancer


A study presented at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) showed how high-dose-rate brachytherapy was an excellent treatment for elderly patients with common skin cancers (i.e. squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma).  Oftentimes, the best option to treat squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma deals with surgical removal and conventional radiation therapy. However, for elderly patients, this method of treatment can be problematic. 

"For elderly patients who don't heal as well and may have additional medical problems, surgery may not be the best option," said Ashwatha Narayana, M.D., chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. "If the affected area is the tip of the nose, ear or on the eyelid, multiple surgeries and skin grafting may be required."

High-dose-rate bracytherapy, on the contrary, delivers a precise dose of radiation to the cancerous cells through catheters implanted into a custom filter applicator. This course of treatment includes six three-minute sessions over two weeks. Narayana goes further into the studies findings where patients had minimal recovery time and few to no side effects associated with the treatment. 

The study treated 70 patients between the ages of 70 and 100 with early-stage basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. The cure rate for the 81 total lesions they performed on between the 70 participants was 96% for squamous cell carcinoma and 98% for basal cell carcinoma. 

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