With skin cancer, the goal of treatment is to achieve a cure while avoiding damage to surrounding tissues and organs. Since skin cancer often occurs in highly-visible areas, such as your face, hands or arms, surgery may not be the most desirable option. That’s why CHI Health St. Elizabeth offers HDR brachytherapy. This proven technology allows us to treat skin cancer precisely and without surgery.
Getting you back to what matters—quickly and discreetly
High Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy offers non-melanoma skin cancer patients a treatment option with minimal risk of complications and scaring. During brachytherapy, a specially designed applicator places a radiation source directly at the lesion on the surface of the skin to destroy the cancer cells while sparing the healthy surrounding tissue. Delivered in short sessions on an outpatient basis, brachytherapy offers patients a convenient treatment option requiring minimal downtime with excellent cosmetic results.
Quality of life, appearance, and other advantages may make brachytherapy your skin cancer treatment of choice, especially when:
- Cancer is in a highly-visible area where you want to avoid surgical scarring
- Surgery is risky due to other health conditions or bleeding concerns
- You run a high risk of post-operative wound complications or have a history of prominent scar formation (keloids)
Are you a candidate?
Contact us at (402) 382-9944 to learn if HDR brachytherapy is right for you.
Read one patient's story
Nancy Gondringer, like most of her family, has fair skin and sunburns easily. As a young child, she spent a lot of time in the sun. She has always enjoyed being outside, playing sports and having fun in the nearest pool or lake. Her love for the sun continued as a young woman. She would tan on a regular basis and sunscreen wasn’t a priority.
When Nancy learned that she had basal cell carcinoma, she wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis. Her grandfather, mother and aunt all had basal cell carcinoma on their nose and face. It was their experience with skin cancer that prompted Nancy’s first skin examination with a dermatologist. Four years ago, she found a scaly spot on the end of her nose that wouldn’t go away. After consulting with her physician, she had an ear, nose and throat surgeon remove the spot.
Two years later, she noticed another scaly spot on the bridge of her nose. Again, it didn’t go away. She monitored it for a while and finally decided it was time to have it removed.
A friend told her about HDR Brachytherapy offered at St. Elizabeth Cancer Institute. It is an alternative to surgery – a treatment that can remove the cancer without scarring.
HDR Brachytherapy places radiation directly to the cancerous site to destroy the cells while sparing the healthy surrounding tissue. The treatment is delivered in a short, pain-free session on an outpatient basis. Since skin cancer often occurs on highly-visible areas, HDR Brachytherapy is very popular because it offers excellent cosmetic results.
Nancy shares that she would have been facing major nose surgery because of the location of her cancerous spot. “My aunt had a spot on the bridge of her nose. To remove it, she underwent significant nasal surgery. Her surgery took much longer to heal and was more invasive than the brachytherapy treatment.”
Dr. Kevin Yiee, medical director of St. Elizabeth Radiation Therapy Center, says, “That depending on the size, depth and location of the cancerous lesion, surgery can at times be disfiguring. That is why we are so excited to offer this new advancement in treating non-melanoma skin cancers.”
Nancy was grateful that she didn't have to undergo surgery on her nose. “I know brachytherapy was the right treatment for me. Dr. Yiee was able to remove the cancer without any scaring.”
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. Every year, it is estimated that 2.8 million people are diagnosed.
“Skin cancer is common, but most cases are highly curable. With HDR Brachytherapy, we are seeing cure rates equal to surgery and patients are pleased with the cosmetic outcome,” adds Dr. Yiee.
The majority of nonmelanoma skin cancers, which includes basal cell carcinoma, arise from too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. That’s why the message of sun safety is so important.
Nancy is an advocate of sun safety. “I wear hats now, and I tell everyone – my kids, grandkids, family and friends - to protect their skin. It is very important. Cancer can happen to anyone, at any age. Be safe; not sorry.”