Many individuals being treated for skin cancer find that their doctor suggests delivering a dose of radiation to the site to help prevent recurrences or as an alternative to surgical excision. Radiation therapy sounds very scary, but there are some safe, simple, effective options available today.
Brachytherapy means to deliver a dose of radiation to a highly localized area. Originally, brachytherapy was always performed by implanting a seed of radioactive material inside the body at the site of the cancer. Some forms of brachytherapy are still performed that way – for example, prostate cancer is often treated by implanting seeds of radioactive material in the prostate.
A drawback of using radioactive materials to perform brachytherapy is that they require special handling and shielding. Electronic brachytherapy uses x-rays to deliver radiation. The x-rays are produced by running electrical power into a special x-ray producing device. A major advantage of electronic brachytherapy is that the radiation can be turned on and off with a simple flip of a power switch. Therefore, shielding and handling requirements are reduced.
Xoft® eBX System®
The eBX® electronic brachytherapy system® delivers a high dose of radiation from a miniaturized x-ray device to a localized area on the patient. Shielding requirements are minimal, and medical personnel can even stay in the room with the patient during treatment. The devices are small enough to be used in our office, so the patient can be treated in familiar surroundings by known medical personnel.
What to expect
A small round disc will be applied to the skin at the site of electronic brachytherapy treatment. The x-ray source is then attached to the applicator, and is turned on to deliver radiation to the targeted site. The patient is required to lie still during treatment. At the end of treatment, the radiation is turned off and the device is removed. The patient can immediately resume regular activity. During treatment, patients do not experience any pain or discomfort. Most individual treatment sessions last for around 5 to 10 minutes. A typical course of treatment requires a treatment twice a week for a total of eight treatment sessions.
Because only a tiny area of the body is being exposed to radiation, side effects are minimal. None of the unpleasant nausea, hair-falling-out type side effects commonly associated with radiation therapy will occur. The skin at the targeted area may suffer from temporary redness, irritation, and occasionally ulceration.
Currently, electronic brachytherapy is most often used to treat non-melanoma skin cancers. It is a particularly popular choice for skin cancers located on the face or scalp, where surgical excision would be expected to leave a scar. It can be used to treat skin cancers on eyelids, ears, and other sites that are extremely difficult to treat via surgery.
Schedule Your Consultation
If you want to learn more about the Xoft® Electronic Brachytherapy (eBx®) System® and if it’s right for you, contact Doctors Approach in Okemos today to schedule your consultation. Our dermatology and surgery team will work with you to determine to most effective treatment plan for your needs.