Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Skin Cancer: Focus on External Beam Radiotherapy, Rhenium-SCT for skin cancer

Introduction to Non-Surgical Skin Cancer Treatments

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer globally, and its incidence is rising. Fortunately, advances in medical technology have significantly expanded treatment options. While surgery, including Mohs surgery, has traditionally been a primary approach, non-surgical treatments such as external beam radiotherapy and Rhenium-SCT offer effective alternatives for many patients. This page aims to provide comprehensive information about these non-surgical treatments, helping you understand their benefits, possible side effects, and how they compare to surgical options, so you can make an informed decision about your skin cancer treatment.

What is External Beam Radiotherapy?

External beam radiotherapy (EBRT) is a non-invasive treatment option for skin cancer, particularly effective for non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This treatment uses high-energy X-rays to target and destroy cancer cells. I use state-of-the-art technology to deliver radiation precisely, focusing on the cancerous cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

How Does External Beam Radiotherapy Work?

The process involves the following steps:


Consultation and Planning:

Your treatment begins with a detailed consultation to assess the suitability of EBRT. This may include imaging studies to determine the exact size and location of the tumor.



Before the actual treatment, a simulation run is performed to ensure maximum accuracy in targeting the tumor.


Treatment Sessions:

EBRT is typically administered over several sessions, depending on the individual case. Each session lasts only a few minutes, with the radiation itself being painless.

Selecting Patients for Radiotherapy Over Surgery

Not every patient is a candidate for EBRT. Selection is based on several factors:

  • Location and Size of the Tumour: EBRT is particularly useful for tumors in areas difficult to treat surgically, such as the eyelids, nose, or ears.
  • Patient's General Health and Preferences: Patients who prefer non-surgical options or those for whom surgery poses significant risks may benefit from EBRT.
  • Previous Treatments: EBRT can be considered if previous surgical treatment has failed or if a recurrence occurs.

By choosing to explore EBRT with me, you will receive a personalised treatment plan that considers your specific circumstances and needs.

Benefits of External Beam Radiotherapy

  • Non-invasive: No incisions are made, which means there is no surgical wound and associated complications.
  • Precise Targeting: Modern technology allows for precise targeting of radiation, which spares healthy surrounding tissue.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Each session is quick and does not require hospitalization, allowing you to maintain your usual daily activities.
  • High Effectiveness: EBRT has a high success rate in treating certain types of skin cancer, comparable to surgical outcomes.

Managing Side Effects

While EBRT is safe, it can cause side effects such as redness, soreness, or peeling/scabbing at the treatment site. These are generally mild and manageable. We will provides comprehensive support to manage any side effects effectively, including:

  • Skin Care: I recommend gentle skin care routines and products to soothe and protect the skin.
  • Medications: If necessary, medications are prescribed to manage symptoms.
  • Follow-Up Care: Regular follow-ups are scheduled to monitor the treatment area and ensure a healthy recovery.


Introduction to Rhenium-SCT

Rhenium-SCT (Skin Cancer Therapy) is another non-surgical treatment, relatively new and particularly promising for treating non-melanoma skin cancers. This therapy uses a radioactive isotope, rhenium-188, applied directly to the skin in the form of a patch. The radiation is highly localized, affecting only the tumour cells while sparing the healthy surrounding tissues.

Benefits of Rhenium-SCT

  • Targeted Therapy: Direct application means minimal impact on surrounding healthy tissue.
  • Single Treatment: In many cases, a single application is sufficient to effectively treat the tumor.
  • Painless and Quick: The application of the patch is non-invasive and painless, with each session lasting only a few minutes.

Potential Side Effects of Rhenium-SCT and Their Management

The side effects of Rhenium-SCT are minimal but may include skin irritation at the application site. As with EBRT, I will provide detailed guidance on managing any side effects, ensuring a comfortable and safe treatment experience.

Comparing Radiotherapy and Surgical Options

While surgery, such as Mohs surgery, is highly effective for many types of skin cancer, it can be invasive and require significant recovery time. Non-surgical options like EBRT and Rhenium-SCT provide alternatives that offer effective treatment with minimal disruption to your life. These options can be particularly attractive for:

  1. Patients with lesions in cosmetically sensitive areas.
  2. Those who prefer a non-invasive approach.

Treatment selection is highly nuanced. I always make treatment recommendations in partnership with my dermatology colleagues and the wider multidisciplinary team.

For more information, go to my FAQs Skin Cancer page


I am dedicated to providing patients with access to the latest and most effective non-surgical treatments for lung cancer. I understand the challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis and strive to offer not just treatments, but hope and a path towards recovery in a patient-centred, compassionate environment.

Should you or a loved one need consultation or wish to discuss potential treatment options, please contact me. We are here to help you navigate your treatment journey with expertise, care, and the most advanced technology available.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

Ready to take the next step in your cancer care? Dr James Wilson specialises in innovative treatments for lung and skin cancer, providing personalised and compassionate care. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and start your journey towards recovery.