Two of the most effective treatments for skin cancer are Superficial Radiation Treatment (SRT) and Mohs surgery. But which one is best for you? It depends on the type of skin cancer you have among other factors. Let’s take a look at each of these advanced skin cancer treatments in more detail.
Superficial Radiation Treatment (SRT)
Also known as SRT-100, this non-surgical skin cancer treatment is used to treat basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas as well as non-malignant keloids. It is not a recommended treatment for melanoma skin cancers.
How does SRT work?
Short, 30-second bursts of low dose radiation are delivered superficially (5mm into the skin) directly into malignant non-melanoma skin cancer cells. These blasts of energy disrupt the cell division process of the malignant cells, effectively destroying the cancer without damaging healthy adjacent tissue. Because the radiation only penetrates 5mm into the skin, it is safe and effective for treating basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. The treatments are done in your dermatologist’s office a couple of times a week for a period of weeks until the skin cancer is gone.
Benefits of SRT
There are a number of benefits to SRT over surgical skin cancer treatment.
- SRT does not require anesthesia.
- No cutting or suturing is required with SRT.
- SRT treatments are quick and only require an office visit.
- SRT is usually painless, with only mild side effects of redness and irritation in the treatment area.
- SRT achieves superior cosmetic results, making it an excellent choice for skin cancers on the face.
- Cure rates for SRT are around 95%, only slightly lower than surgical treatments.
Who can get SRT?
Although SRT is an excellent treatment option, it’s not for everyone. The American Academy of Dermatology guidelines recommend SRT as a viable secondary option for basal and squamous cell skin cancers in special circumstances, such as for very visible skin cancers on the eyelid, nose or other areas of the face, or for patients who cannot tolerate surgery. Patients on blood thinners for whom surgery might be dangerous are also excellent candidates for SRT.
SRT may not be recommended for younger patients because of the possibility of the development of future skin cancers in the treated area. That said, the benefits of SRT may outweigh any risks. Talk to your doctor if you believe you would be a good candidate for SRT.
Mohs surgery, also called Mohs micrographic surgery, is appropriate for many types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, some types of melanoma and some rare skin cancers. Mohs is especially recommended for aggressive skin cancers, cancers whose borders are hard to define and cancers with high rates of recurrence.
How does Mohs work?
With traditional excision, the surgeon removes the skin cancer with a margin of tissue around it. During Mohs, very thin layers of cancer tissue are removed at a time, with the surgeon checking each batch under a microscope until it can be confirmed that no cancer remains.
Benefits of Mohs
Mohs surgery is currently the very best treatment option available for most skin cancers for a variety of reasons.
- The success rate for Mohs surgery is extremely high– around 99%.
- Because the surgeon can confirm during surgery that no cancer cells remain, chances of recurrence are very low.
- Very little healthy tissue is removed during Moh’s surgery, preserving cosmetic appearance.
- Because of the effectiveness of the surgery, you’re unlikely to need any additional treatment.
Who Can Get Mohs Surgery?
Complications from Mohs are rare and most people tolerate the surgery well. If you are not a candidate for surgery or if your cancer is on your eyelid, nose or another part of your face, your dermatologist may recommend SRT or another form of skin cancer treatment. Talk to your doctor about how Mohs fits into your skin cancer treatment options.