Superficial Skin Treatment

SRT100 machine

SRT100 at UCSF — Mount Zion

Superficial x-rays are a type of radiation that has long been established as a treatment for cancer. Treatments are given for tumors such as skin cancers and for benign conditions such as Dupuytren's disease. In superficial cancer therapy, the therapeutic x-rays destroy cancer cells within a few millimeters of the skin surface. Since the radiation only penetrates skin-deep, side effects to other organs and normal tissues are limited. The procedure is painless.

Superficial x-ray therapy is an excellent alternative to surgery for skin cancer in sensitive locations such as the folds of the nose or the eyelids. Treatments generally take 15 minutes per day and are usually given daily for several weeks.

Radiation therapy may be used as the main treatment for large tumors, or those on an area of skin that would be hard to treat with surgery. It can also be used to treat patients who can’t tolerate surgery because of compromised overall health.

SRT100 consol

Fritz Cao, radiation therapist, at the SRT 100 console

Radiation therapy can delay the growth of more advanced cancers, and can often cure small squamous cell or basal cell skin cancers. It can also be combined effectively with surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells not detected during a surgical procedure, and can be used to treat skin cancer that has spread to lymph nodes or other sites.  Each radiation treatment takes only a few minutes, plus the somewhat longer time required for positioning and preparation.