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Skin Cancer Radiation – Radiotherapy  


Skin cancer is contracted by several people each year. The major cause for skin cancer is the prolonged exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays affect cell division process consequently leading to rapid increase in the cells of the skin, causing malignant tumors to grow. There are mainly three types of skin cancer:  

  • Melanoma 
  • Squamous cell carcinoma  
  • Basal cell carcinoma.  

The last two are commonly known as non- melanoma. 

If detected at the early stages skin cancer is easily curable. The common ways to treat skin cancer are  

  • Surgery  
  • Cryotherapy  
  • Radiation Therapy  

Radiation Therapy 


Skin cancer is treated using radiation and this therapy is normally known as the radiotherapy. During such skin cancer treatment the radiation is focused on a target area. This high power beam destroys the cancer cells and reduces the size of tumor. The radioactive rays destroy the genet ic codes which result in the death of the cancerous cells. After radiation the normal cells recover but malignant cells do not.


The main type of skin cancer radiation used is X-rays. These X-rays are produced at different levels of energy. There are high energy radiations that burn off the malignant cells and tissues. These radiations are able to penetrate in to the body and are commonly used to cure internal cancers. X-rays with low energy are used for skin cancer treatment. These X-rays, that are low in energy, are commonly known as the ortho voltage or superficial x-ray. 


Types of Radiation Therapy 


The radiotherapy is divided into:   

  • External – where the radiations are beamed through external machine  
  • Internal – where it radiations are injected inside the body 

In the case of skin cancer, external therapy works well. 


Benefits of Radiation therapy 


The purpose of radiotherapy is to destroy skin cancer cells without causing least possible damage to normal cells. It is a curative treatment that, in most of the cases, imparts long term benefits. Depending over the enormity of skin malignancy, radiotherapy is given as an independent treatment or in conjunction with one or more treatments. Radiotherapy can be pre-operative as well as post-operative depending on the case. Its main aim is to shrink the existing malignancy and also hinder further proliferation.  


Factors to be looked into before commencing Radiotherapy  


All skin cancers cannot be treated with radiation therapy. There are certain aspects that need to be looked into before commencing the radiotherapy 

         Type of cancer the person is affected with – The type of the cancer is the main factor that decides if radiotherapy would be pertinent or not. While melanoma cancer is not very receptive to radiation therapy, the non melanoma cancer is sensitive to it. 

         The area affected by cancer- The area affected with cancer is also an important factor that decides if radiation therapy would be successful or not. The sensitive areas of the body which are prone side effects are not treated using radiotherapy. Eyelids and the lower portion of legs are some areas where radiation therapy cannot be used. 

         The medical history of the patient – If the patient has already taken radiation treatment and cancer has resurfaced then it is not advisable to go for it again.