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Radiation Therapy

Non-surgical Skin Cancer Treatment

Skin cancer treatment with radiation is administered at California Skin Institute by a radiation technologist under the direct supervision of a board-certified radiation oncologist who specializes in radiation treatment of skin cancer.* The treatment regimen consists of multiple treatment sessions that vary based on the tumor size, depth, and location. Prior to your first treatment, a radiation physicist together with the radiation oncologist develop a customized treatment plan for each patient.* In addition, custom shielding is created to optimize the delivery of radiation to the area of the skin cancer and protect the adjacent normal tissue.* Treatments typically take place three times per week and take less than ten minutes.* The treatments are painless. At the completion of the quick treatment, the x-ray source is turned off and the shield is removed. The patient is able to drive themselves home and immediately return to normal activities.* As a superficial skin treatment localized to the skin cancer, there is no radiation exposure to other areas of your body.*

Radiation Treatment Comparison to Surgical Treatment

Radiation therapy is a non-invasive alternative to surgical treatment and does not require needles, cutting, or stitches.* Radiation treatment provides an excellent cosmetic outcome through optimizing the number and strength of radiation treatments.* Skin cancers that are aggressive, rapidly growing, deep, recurrent, or present in younger patients will more commonly be treated by Mohs Surgery or excision.*

Ideal Candidates for Radiation Treatment*:

  • Patients who are not surgical candidates for medical reasons (i.e. blood thinners)
  • Patients concerned about scarring or distortion from surgery
  • Patients who require additional treatment for aggressive skin cancers following surgical treatment
  • Patients with positive margins after excision to reduce the risk of recurrence

For consultation appointments and more information on radiation therapy for skin cancer treatment:

Please request your consultation online. Based on your history, an appointment will be made with one of our dermatologists or radiation oncologists.

Electronic Radiation Treatment for Skin Cancer FAQs

Q: May I drive myself to my radiation therapy appointment?
A: Yes. Your activities are unlimited before and after treatment.*

Q: Are radiation treatments painful?
A: No. Radiation treatments are completely painless.* In fact, the treatments cause no sensation at all.*

Q: Will I lose my hair or have nausea and vomiting?
A: No. Radiation only causes side effects where it is delivered.* Any part of the body outside of the treatment area is completely unaffected.*

Q: What are the common short-term side effects of skin radiation treatments?
A: Near the completion of the course of therapy the skin may become somewhat red and irritated, similar to a sunburn.* The skin irritation typically resolves very quickly after the treatment is completed.*

Q: Does skin radiation cause scarring?
A: No. It is possible that the skin in the treated area may be slightly darker or lighter but this is usually very minimal.* The cosmetic outcome is excellent in the vast majority of cases.*

Q: Isn’t radiation dangerous? Doesn’t radiation cause cancer?
A: Radiation is like any other tool: used properly it is completely safe and therapeutic.* Radiation in a therapeutic doses to the skin poses no risk of causing secondary cancers either in the treated area or elsewhere in the body.*

Q: Will other organs in my body be exposed to radiation?
A: No. Fortunately, radiation for skin cancer can be delivered very superficially and does not affect any other organs of the body.* Only the area in the treatment field is exposed.*

Q: Can I receive another course of radiation therapy in the future if I need it?
A: Yes. Radiation can be delivered to new skin cancers or other parts of the body without difficulty.*

Q: Is radiation therapy for skin cancer a new or experimental treatment?
A: No. Radiation as a treatment for skin cancer has been proven extremely effective with regard to both cure and cosmetic outcome for many decades.* Electronic brachytherapy is, however, the newest and most accurate method of delivering this time-proven therapy.*

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