New high-tech way to treat skin cancer

There's a high-tech option to treat some forms of skin cancer at Houston Methodist Cancer Center in Sugar Land. Instead of surgery, they found a new way to deliver radiation to minimize scarring. Doctors are treating older patients with this treatment who have basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. 

After years of sun damage, Diana Barron was first diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma on her forehead and near her eye 15 years ago. She underwent surgery to remove it, but it came back twice.  The third time, Diana decided to try something different.  This time, she sought treatment at Houston Methodist Cancer Center in Sugar Land.

"There was no pain!  It was a very quick procedure, painless, easy," describes Diana. She's talking about brachytherapy. Her doctor describes the difference between it and older forms of radiation

"External beam radiation comes from the outside while brachytherapy comes very close or inside an organ, so the skin.  We're not putting it inside the organ, we're putting it on the organ, the organ being the skin," explains Dr. Clive Shkedy with Houston Methodist Cancer Center at Sugar Land.     

"The actual treatment was less than three minutes.  It's very quick and easy and no side effects, so you can't ask for anything better," exclaims Diana.

Dr. Shkedy says he's able to treat basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas on any body part with brachytherapy, but he reserves the treatment for his older patients because of the long-term effects of radiation. He goes on to say that the risks are minimal.

"During it, they can have skin irritation, darkness or redness of skin, sometimes blistering of the skin. Long-term, some scarring of the skin, minor blood vessels show up on the skin, but if you've had excessive sun exposure, that may not be noticeable," says Dr. Shkedy. He says medical data shows the cure rate to be 95 percent from brachytherapy. 

Here's more information about the procedure:

Here is info about the doctor who provides the treatment: