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Greeley clinic using unique radiation therapy to treat non-melanoma skin cancer

Unique radiation therapy helps certain patients with non-melanoma skin cancer
Posted at 11:24 PM, Aug 15, 2023

GREELEY, Colo. — The Skin Cancer Foundation reports there are more people diagnosed with skin cancer every year in the United States than all other cancers combined.

According to doctors with Front Range Dermatology in Greeley, over 45,000 Coloradans are diagnosed each year with non-melanoma skin cancer, and more than 2,200 of those people live in Weld County.

The practice offers a unique, non-invasive radiation treatment for that kind of cancer, called Image-Guided Superficial Radiation Therapy (Image-Guided SRT). The treatment allows therapists to use low-level x-rays in a targeted fashion to kill cancer cells.

“Colorado has a very high rate of skin cancer... We have a lot of sunny days, we have high altitude, and also people like to be outside," said Dr. Joseph Wilde with Front Range Dermatology. “There's a small subset of patients [with non-melanoma skin cancer] who do have some other medical issues, or they have lesions in certain parts of the body that would maybe be better treated with something other than surgery."

Christina Burch is a radiation therapist at the practice. She said Image-Guided SRT is a great option for patients who do not want surgery or who have comorbidities that may make them more susceptible to infection. Burch said the radiation is 20 treatments that take around 10 minutes each.

“I calculate the exact size and depth of that lesion, and that actually helps me tailor the prescription," said Burch about the technology. “I became a radiation therapist so that I could be that light in a very dark time in someone's life.”

One of her patients is Westcott Smith, who is nearing the end of his treatments.

“It's quick and easy," said Smith. “We're getting this cured. It's not sticking around.”

Smith's diagnosis was a good candidate for Image-Guided SRT, and he appreciated not needing surgery.

“The particular lesion that [Smith] had on the top of his head was a bit larger in diameter, but it also wasn't invading very deeply into his skin. So that's a perfect type of skin lesion that can be treated with a non-surgical type of treatment," said Wilde.

Burch said her work with radiation treatment is a passion, and she truly loves helping her patients.

“Whether it's cancer or a skin cancer, it's still a devastating diagnosis. Nobody wants to hear that word," said Burch. “Being able to provide the care for my patients and being able to connect with them is absolutely everything.”

Those with Front Range Dermatology said another practice in Boulder offers this treatment. Burch said they are the only two centers in Colorado that use the technology.

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