The idea of getting radiation to treat skin cancer can be scary. Add to that the amount of misleading information that you might hear about radiation, and it’s no wonder you may have concerns.
For many people, the best way to overcome these fears is to learn all you can about your skin cancer treatment options. Learn the differences between radiation treatments for skin cancer, specifically, versus general radiation used for other types of cancer. The more information you know, the more at ease you can feel about your treatment decision.
Side effects from high-dose radiation
When you hear the word radiation, you most likely think of external or internal radiation therapy. These treatments are used for cancers like breast, prostate, or lymphoma. Both of these types of radiation use high doses of radiation, can damage healthy cells around the cancer, and can have severe side effects.
One side effect of radiation that you may worry about is your body or bodily fluids glowing during or after treatment. Rest assured that this is not true. It is possible, however, that some types of radiation, like internal radiation, can cause a person to give off radiation after treatment. The seeds or ribbons implanted inside the body give off radiation for some time. Those people need to be careful about being around others during and after treatment.
Radiation treatments for skin cancer
There are 4 main types of skin cancer radiation treatments—Image-Guided Superficial Radiation Therapy (Image-Guided SRT), Superficial Radiation Therapy (SRT), Electron-Beam Radiotherapy (EBRT), and Electronic Brachytherapy (EBX). Each treatment has different benefits and risks. Take a look at the Skin Cancer Radiation Treatment blog to learn more about each. Be sure to talk with your dermatologist about all of your options. Remember, if you are uncomfortable with the treatment option your dermatologist suggests, you have the right to a second opinion.
Image-Guided SRT is a different way to treat skin cancer
While Image-Guided SRT is grouped with other skin cancer radiation treatments, there are a number of ways that it stands apart. Image-Guided SRT is done right in your dermatologist’s office, and uses only low-energy X-rays, like what dentists use to X-ray your teeth. Unlike any other type of radiation, ultrasound images are used to determine the precise dose needed and to monitor how the cancer cells shrink and go away. In fact, Image-Guided SRT is over 99% effective at curing basal and squamous cell skin cancers. Because it only goes skin deep, there is little to no damage to nearby healthy skin and only mild to moderate side effects. You can learn more about Image-Guided SRT here.
Which skin cancer treatment is best for you?
It’s important to talk with your dermatologist about all of your options for treating skin cancer. Together, you can choose the treatment option that is best for you. Check out these resources to help guide your discussion.