New Treatment Zaps Skin Cancer Without Scarring

September 5, 2012

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Tom Dye is back on his bike after SRT

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—One familiar face around the Ozarks is known not only for being able to forecast the weather, but also for his love of being out in the elements on his bicycle. So when Mercy dermatologist Dr. Raffaele Pennella diagnosed Tom Dye with squamous cell carcinoma on his nose, the former broadcaster wanted a treatment option that wouldn’t slow him down or leave a big mark.

“A lot of the people I go to church with have a scar on their nose from having cancer cut off,” said Dye. “With the treatment I had, you can hardly even see where it was.”

Dye had a new procedure called Superficial Radiotherapy (SRT). It directs a small amount of radiation directly at the cancer. A custom cut shield protects the surrounding skin. Patients typically have 12 to 15 treatments, each lasting less than a minute. “I did it 12 days in a row, except for weekends,” Dye said. “It was painless. After treatment a scab formed, and when it came off, there was healthy new skin underneath.”

Mercy Clinic Dermatology-Surgery Center has the only SRT machine in Missouri. “We’ve had patients ask us if there’s an alternative to cutting out cancer, and now there is,” said Mercy dermatologist Dr. Jenifer Insley. “It’s 98 percent effective, and it’s cosmetically superior.”

SRT is generally recommended for patients ages 60 and older with non-melanoma skin cancer. “There is a possibility that 20 years down the road patients could see some skin lightening where they’ve had the procedure,” explained Dr. Pennella. “For that reason, we usually suggest it for older patients.”

As for Dye, he’s happy with the results. “I’ve had cancer cut off before, but this was different. It was painless and quick.”

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