Electron Beam Therapy Benefits
Nonsurgical Skin Cancer Treatment for Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
Electron beam therapy (EBT) offers patients a state-of-the-art nonsurgical management option for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. It is particularly well-suited for treating cancers located near the eyes, ears, nose, or lips because it can produce favorable cosmetic outcomes. The treatment uses a very thin, non-penetrating electron beam to destroy cancer cells in the targeted area while allowing protection of healthy cells.
Dr. David Herold, a board-certified radiation oncologist at Water’s Edge, often recommends electron beam therapy in circumstances where surgery can leave a less-than-desirable cosmetic outcome or in patients who have other medical ailments.
Benefits of Electron Beam Therapy
- Each treatment lasts less than two minutes
- For most patients, the regimen involves two to six weeks of daily treatments (Monday-Friday), depending on cancer size and location
- Little or no discomfort during treatment
- Cosmetically satisfying results
- Side effects are limited to the treatment site, usually involving gradual development of skin irritation, redness, or “sunburn” that gradually dissipates following treatment
- 90 to 98% cure rate, depending on location
How Does Electron Beam Therapy Work?
Cancer cells, unlike normal healthy cells, have a reduced ability to repair damage from electron beam treatment. The electron beam is created by a computer-controlled medical linear accelerator that produces a pure therapy beam that is then custom tailored to your site of cancer.
Unlike older technologies that still use penetrating X-rays or strong, high-dose radioactive sources, the electron beam system we use at Water’s Edge Dermatology protects healthy tissues. It works by delivering a series of small electron beam treatments that destroy cancer cells but allow healthy cells to heal.
How effective is electron beam therapy?
Superficial electron beam treatment is very effective at destroying both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Most of the published studies reported cure rates ranging from 90-98%.
However, many factors can affect the likelihood of cure, including the tumor size and location, the subtype of histology, if the cancer has had prior treatments, etc.
How long does the treatment take?
The total length of treatment time depends on several factors, including the cancer size, location, and overall desired cosmetic outcome.
Most patients complete their course of electron beam treatment in 10 to 30 sessions, each lasting less than 5 minutes. The longer treatment courses tend to deliver better cosmetic results.
Throughout your entire course of treatment, you can continue with your normal everyday activities, including work and sports. There are no restrictions or limitations.
What are the side effects of electron beam therapy?
Side effects are limited to the treatment site. The type of side effects you may experience will depend on the location of the cancer, its size, and the length of treatment desired.
In general, most patients will gradually develop skin irritation or a sunburn-like redness in the treatment area. You might be given a prescription for creams or lotions to help healing.
Side effects do not usually begin until the second or third week of treatment and peak a few days after treatment is completed. Then, over two to four weeks, the side effects gradually dissipate.
You may lose hair within the treatment site, which might not grow back. There may be subtle lightening of the skin in the treatment area or the development of small spider veins years later. Most patients are very pleased with their treatment results.
Is electron beam therapy covered by insurance?
Electron beam therapy is a medically accepted form of treatment for skin cancers. It is covered by Medicare and most major insurance carriers. We will confirm your insurance benefits to determine out-of-pocket costs of treatment.
Electron Beam Therapy Centers
- Okeechobee (accepting patients from Okeechobee, Clewiston, Belle Glade)
- Fort Pierce (accepting patients from Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie West, Vero Beach, Sebastian, Jensen Beach)
- Stuart (accepting patients from Palm City, Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie West, Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound)
- Jupiter (accepting patients from Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Hobe Sound)
- Wellington (accepting patients from West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee, Boynton Beach, Belle Glade)
Schedule a Consultation
Learn how you might benefit from superficial electron beam therapy by scheduling a consultation with one of our radiation oncologists. Request an appointment online or call the Water’s Edge Dermatology location nearest you.
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