Superficial radiation therapy appears to be an effective non-surgical treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer on the lower extremities of elderly patients.
These findings come from a paper published in Journal of Drugs in Dermatology (Feb. 2019; 18(2)).
“When treating [non-melanoma skin cancer] NMSC of the lower extremities, it is critically important to examine every treatment option that does not inflict more pain or add potential complications, as many of these patients are elderly and present with numerous comorbidities,” Dr. William Roth, lead author on the study and a voluntary clinical professor at The University of Miami School of Medicine's department of dermatology, said in a press release.
In the paper the authors write that age-associated comorbidities such as diabetes, stasis dermatitis, chronic edema, and cardiovascular diseases make NMSC patients who have them them poor surgical candidates. This is especially true for NMSC lesions on the lower limbs. The study was a retrospective review of data from consecutive patients with biopsy-proven basal cell carcinoma (BCC, 38 patients) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC, 113 patients) on their lower extremities who had been treated with superficial radiation therapy (SRT). The mean patient age was 82.5 years, with follow-up periods of 4 or more years (32% of patients), 3 years (30%), 2 years (20%) or 2 or fewer years (17%).
In the study the overall success rate was more than 97%. Four lesions (one BCC and three SCCs) recurred, split equally between genders (two males and two females) with lesions larger than 1.0 cm. All recurring lesions were eventually cleared with other modalities.
“The results of this study highlight SRT as a highly effective treatment option for eliminating basal and squamous cell carcinoma lesions on lower extremities,” said Dr. Roth.