Radiotherapy in patients with non-melanoma skin cancers

Is radiotherapy an effective adjuvant treatment for non-melanoma skin cancers of the head and neck? This was explored in a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology, with a particular focus on the efficacy and outcomes of the therapy for elderly patients.

Researchers conducted a retrospective review of patients with head and neck non-melanoma skin cancer. Of the 90 patients with 140 disease sites, 76.6 per cent were squamous cell carcinoma, 15.5 per cent were basal cell carcinoma, and 7.7 per cent were other histologies.

The average age at diagnosis was 72.1 years old. The most common location was preauricular (20.0 per cent), followed by temple, scalp, cheek, and forehead. The overall local control and regional control rates were 88.8 per cent and 88.8 per cent, respectively by patients, and 92.8 per cent and 86.4 per cent, respectively by treatment sites.

Age, primary tumour location, T classification, N classification, overall stage, perineural invasion, comorbid disease, skull base invasion, and radiotherapy subgroup were significantly associated with disease‐free and overall survival. Local control and regional control were not significantly different among the radiotherapy dose subgroups. The mean survival was longer in patients treated with 240–250 cGy/fraction (50.3 months). There was no significant difference in radiotherapy toxicity between the subgroups.

The study concluded that short‐term radiotherapy regimens for patients with locally or regionally advanced head and neck NMSC appear feasible and effective, particularly in elderly patients or those that cannot tolerate the length of standard regimens.

Read more about therapies for non-melanoma skin cancer.


Dundar, Y. , Cannon, R. B., Hunt, J. P., Monroe, M. , Suneja, G. and Hitchcock, Y. J. (2018), Radiotherapy regimens in patients with nonmelanoma head and neck skin cancers. Int J Dermatol, 57: 441-448. doi:10.1111/ijd.13879

Learn more about skin cancer medicine in primary care at the next Skin Cancer Certificate Courses:

Skin Cancer Certificate Courses in Australia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *