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Radiation Therapy for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

Table of Contents

Treatment Overview

Radiation therapy is used to destroy cancer cells. This procedure may require 15 to 30 visits to a facility with special equipment. Radiation therapy may be used in combination with other types of therapy to treat aggressive or recurrent skin cancer.

What To Expect After Treatment

Recovery time may vary depending on the site treated and the amount of radiation used.

Why It Is Done

Radiation therapy may be used:

How Well It Works

Surgery and radiation are the primary treatments for nonmelanoma skin cancer, but studies show that surgery has the best results.1 Still, radiation therapy has very good cure rates and cosmetic results, so sometimes it is the treatment of choice.

Risks

Risks of radiation therapy to treat skin cancer include the following:

Side effects are common but typically go away when treatment is finished. They include:

What To Think About

Radiation therapy is most often reserved for use in older adults. It may lead to other skin cancers in younger people as they age.

References

Citations

  1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2012). Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, Version 2. Available online: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/nmsc.pdf.

Credits for Radiation Therapy for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Amy McMichael MD - Dermatology


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