January 17, 2022

Cleveland Clinic speaks on prevention, treatment of skin cancer

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As we enter August and the last month of the Skin Cancer Awareness months in Cayman, Cleveland Clinic Florida wants to remind the community of the ways in which you can protect yourself from this too prevalent disease.

While there isn’t an official mandatory registry for skin cancer in the Cayman Islands, it is still safe to say that skin cancer is quite common locally.

The first and most important step to take is to limit your exposure to extreme sunlight. Other steps that may seem obvious but are often overlooked include wearing and reapplying sunblock regularly, wearing a hat while outdoors and using lip balm with SPF, among others.

Early detection is an extremely important factor as well. Ensure to keep an eye out for any abnormal changes in skin colour or moles, including under fingernails and toenails. You can even ask your hair stylist to check your scalp when you get your regular haircut.

For those already affected by skin cancer, Cleveland Clinic specialists are able to treat with high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy. Brachytherapy destroys cancer cells by placing a high dose radiation pellet near the cancer, providing highly conformal, precise radiation treatment. [Add image]

“Brachytherapy is well-suited to treat skin cancer patients,” said John Greskovich, MD, Chairman of Radiation Oncology at Cleveland Clinic Florida’s Maroone Cancer Center. “We use brachytherapy to treat non-melanoma tumours that are too large for surgery or located on curved surfaces such as the face, foot, or scalp.”

At the Maroone Cancer Center, an optimised treatment plan with HDR brachytherapy can vary from one to three weeks, depending on the extent of the skin cancer.

“HDR brachytherapy has been shown to control over 95 percent of the non-melanoma skin cancers treated,” Dr. Greskovich said. “Brachytherapy may also be more suitable for people taking blood-thinners or who have problems with wound healing.”

Larger tumours treated with surgery often require tissue reconstruction using a skin graft or bringing in tissue from other parts of the body. By contrast, no reconstructive surgery is necessary when using brachytherapy.

“After radiation with brachytherapy, the appearance of the skin goes back to normal,” said Dr. Greskovich. “HDR brachytherapy using the Freiburg Flap, a flexible mesh-style surface mould that can be sized and shaped to match the contour of the area being treated, augments the treatment ‘toolbox’ that our specialists use to achieve optimal results for non-melanoma and skin cancer patients.

In addition to brachytherapy, Cleveland Clinic Florida patients have an expanded array of treatment options, including immunotherapy drugs for advanced basal cell carcinoma and Merkel Cell Carcinoma.

“We are excited to offer these innovative treatments, guided by a multidisciplinary team of researchers,” concluded Dr. Greskovich.

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