Superficial Radiation Therapy (SRT): The Non-Invasive, Non-Surgical Alternative for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
What is SRT?
SRT is different than traditional radiation that penetrates deep in the body and can cause severe skin reactions. SRT uses much lower energy and only penetrates just below the skin’s surface. Any skin reaction from SRT is typically very mild.
Different types of skin cancer respond differently to different treatments. SRT has a series of specific protocols that are used to treat skin cancer.
The energy from the machine used for SRT is less than what is used for a standard chest x-ray.
What to Expect During Treatment:
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Initial visit will include a simulation. During this simulation, photos, ultrasound images, and treatment parameters are entered into a computer for documentation and to assure that each treatment will be the same. There will be no treatment on this initial visit and it will typically take 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- The treatment overview will be discussed. There are a total of 20 treatments and the frequency of treatments will depend on several factors. You could come 2, 3, 4, or 5 times per week to complete the 20 treatment total.
- Your skin reaction will be evaluated at each visit and once per week you will be seen by a provider for evaluation.
Advantages to SRT:
- Am I radioactive, and is my treatment dangerous to myself or others?
- No, you are not radioactive and the treatment is very safe.
- Will my hair fall out?
- Your hair will only fall out in the area treated, and that would be a very small area.
- Will I be sick?
- No, other than mild irritation at the treatment site, your body is unaffected.
- Does the treatment penetrate bone?
- No, the treatment only penetrates a few millimeters into the patient’s tissue, and has little effect on normal, surrounding tissue.
- What precautions should I follow?
- Wash the area slightly with a gentle soap, do not use a washcloth, pat dry, and do not use perfumes or deodorants or any kind of medicine on the area without checking with your caregiver. Always cover the area with clothing or sunscreen, as the skin is more sensitive to sunlight when being treated and after treatment is completed.
- If the lesion were to come back, can I have it treated with SRT again?
- No, in the unlikely event your cancer were to come back, it would have to be treated surgically.
- If I have had radiation before in the area where my cancer is, can I have it treated with SRT?
- No, the skin can only be treated once with radiation.
- Will the treatment hurt?
- No, the treatment is painless.
- How long will I be in the office each day for treatment?
- Treatments usually take about 15 minutes total. Simulation on the first day is longer.
- How much will treatment cost me?
- With most insurances, patients are generally out of pocket some dollars based on coverage and deductibles, just like with surgery. The amounts can range from very little to several thousand dollars based on your insurance plan. For example, patients with Medicare and a secondary insurance often pay nothing for treatment. Commercial plans are generally associated with a deductible, which varies greatly.
- Is this treatment covered by insurance?
- Yes, most insurances, as well as Medicare cover SRT.
- If I have to miss an appointment, will that cause a problem?
- No, unlike treatment in a cancer center, the occasional missed appointment is easily remedied by adding the missed appointment to the end. Minor breaks in treatment generally do not affect the treatment process.
- How will I know the treatment is working?
- Your Radiation Therapist will image the area every day with an ultrasound, and once per week your practitioner will do the same to evaluate the cancer’s response to treatment.
- 95% cure rate
- No pain
- Short treatment
- No cutting
- No downtime
- No scarring
- No antibiotics necessary
- No stoppage of blood thinners
- Normal day to day activities
Felicia McAllister, RTT