Superficial Radiation Therapy: New Treatment for Skin Cancer

By Neil Allen
Friday, November 3, 2017

Thomas Myers, DO, of Summit Dermatology in Stow, Ohio, is the first in the region to offer a new non-surgical option for non-melanoma skin cancer — Superficial Radiation Therapy (SRT).

Skin cancer is the leading form of cancer in the US, and the incidence is increasing as the aging population grows. Consider some facts:

  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer1 than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.2
  • Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.3
  • One out of five Americans will develop skin cancer.4

Of the more than 6 million people in the US suffering from the disease in 2016, over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer were treated in more than 3.3 million people.1 Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer6 in the US with more than 4 million cases diagnosed each year,1 followed by squamous cell carcinoma with more than 1 million cases diagnosed annually.1

Until recently, the primary treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer was surgical intervention, with Mohs micrographic surgery considered to be the “gold standard.” However, non-surgical alternatives do exist and are increasingly in need as the prevalence of skin cancer continues to increase and the number of Mohs surgeons is limited.

Case Study: An 80-year-old male presented with a 3.5 cm skin lesion on the right postauricular scalp. A biopsy showed superficial basal cell skin cancer. Treatment included alternating 50kV and 70kV energies, 3 days a week, for 20 fractions. Two weeks after the last treatment, the lesion was gone. There was no scar.

Thomas Myers, DO, of Summit Dermatology, a division of Unity Health Network, in Stow, Ohio, is the first in the region to offer a new non-surgical option — Superficial Radiation Therapy (SRT). SRT uses very focused, low-dose radiation that penetrates only skin-deep to stop cancer cells from spreading. Patients receive a series of very short (approximately 30 second) treatments, usually once or twice a week over a series of weeks. The process does not involve anesthesia or an incision, thereby avoiding the related side effects. With SRT, there is no cutting, bleeding, stitching or pain. Only some redness and irritation at the treatment site are reported. And there are no downtime or lifestyle restrictions.

“I know firsthand that many of my skin cancer patients would prefer a non-invasive alternative for treating their cancer,” says Dr. Myers, who performs SRT as an in-office procedure at Summit Dermatology. “In addition to catering to those patients with an aversion to surgery, the new SRT technology is also ideal for those who have existing medical conditions that make surgery a serious health risk. This would include those with co-morbid conditions of blood thinner maintenance and diabetic concerns. Traditional therapies are not workable for these types of patients.”

The benefits of this alternative treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer are impressive. One of the most notable is clinical outcomes; studies have shown a 95%+ cure rate for non-melanoma skin cancer using SRT. Following treatment, patients also are afforded superior cosmesis; there’s no unsightly scarring. And there is no need for post-treatment reconstructive surgeries.

“SRT is an extremely appealing option, especially if a patient’s cancer is in plain sight on the face — the nose, the eyelid, lips or ear,” says Dr. Myers.

He points out that the goal at Summit Dermatology is to provide optimal solutions for patients’ needs. And, in the case of non-melanoma skin cancer, a non-surgical alternative makes a lot of sense.

“SRT optimizes patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes,” says Dr. Myers. “We are excited to offer the service to the growing number of patients affected with non-melanoma skin cancer.”

Summit Dermatology, a division of Unity Health Network, is located at 4465 Darrow Road in Stow, Ohio. For more information, visit To refer a patient, call 330-926-3495.