Skin cancers fall into two major categories: melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Non-melanoma skin cancer is of two kinds: Squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that affects skin areas exposed to sunlight, and some cases non exposed areas) and basal cell carcinoma (parts of body exposed to sunlight). Chronic exposure to UV light, long standing scars and arsenic (chemical element) can cause skin cancer. Skin cancer often affects the elderly.
Kauvery Hospital Chennai, a unit of Kauvery Group of Hospitals, a leading multispecialty healthcare chain in Tamil Nadu, recently treated a senior citizen for skin cancer, successfully.
Speaking about the patient, Dr. A N Vaidhyswaran, Director and Senior Consultant, Radiation Oncologist, says, ‘We had a 74-year-old gentleman presenting to our department with a hyper pigmented and ulcerated growth just below his nasal bridge. He was experiencing pain due to the lesion. He was initially evaluated in another hospital where a biopsy was done, which revealed keratinizing squamous cell carcinoma (type of skin cancer). He was advised surgical excision followed by flap to cover the defect but the patient was reluctant to undergo surgery and came to us for further management.”
Treatments for skin cancer include surgical excisions, where the lesion is removed through surgery and the defect is closed by skin flap if required. In this case, radiation therapy was given to the cancerous area to treat the tumour. The success rate of treatments for skin cancer is 95%.
“We examined the patient thoroughly and went through all the reports. He had a 1.5 cm sized, almost circular, necrotic (premature death of cells) and excavated lesion just below his nasal bridge. It was situated slightly left to the midline. As the growth was present over the nose, it was unappealing cosmetically. After obtaining informed consent, we decided to proceed with radiotherapy with electron beam. We positioned the patient and immobilized him with a thermoplastic face mask. A custom made cut out was made according to the growth size and radiation treatment field, which was positioned in the electron applicator. Electron beam is a form of ionizing particle radiation which can deliver high dose to the skin surface. This will spare the deeper normal tissues. This was ideal for this patient and the treatment lasted about 5.5 weeks,” he added.
There was visible difference during the treatment, and the necrotic area had healed. The skin was also healing and the region was covered with scab (a layer of skin). The region had mild dermatitis and pigmentation and this was managed through ointments.
After 8 weeks patient came for the follow up. We examined him and found no trace of tumour, and the ulcer had completely healed. There was very mild pigmentation of the skin which was insignificant.
“Skin cancers can be prevented by reducing direct exposure to sunlight, and it is always recommended to apply dermatologically recommended sunscreens. Also if there are any changes in the mole or new moles, immediately check with an oncologist to rule out the possibility of a cancer. The sooner it is detected, lesser the complications,” adds Dr. Vaidhyswaran.
Speaking about the successful treatment, Dr. Aravindan Selvaraj Co-founder and Executive Director Kauvery Hospital Chennai, says, “Cancer treatments in India have grown over the last decade with adoption of new methodologies, sophisticated technology and with higher precision. The department of Radiotherapy Oncology at our Cancer centre is equipped with advanced Linear Accelerator Radiation Unit, and have skilled and experienced radiation oncologists who can plan and deliver precise quantity of radiation to the tumour tissue, while sparing normal tissues, thus avoiding the side effects of radiation therapy. Advanced radiation technique such as IMRT is frequently used in treating tumours at crucial sites which give precise doses of radiation and giving best possible outcomes with minimal side effects. I congratulate Dr. Vaidhyswaran and team for providing the “best standard of care” to this patient, thus helping him to lead his life with more confidence and relief.”