Australia's first non-invasive skin cancer treatment


Tuesday, 13 December, 2016


Australia's first non-invasive skin cancer treatment

Radiation Oncology Centres (ROC), Queensland’s largest provider of radiation therapy services, will be the first in Australia to provide skin brachytherapy treatment via the Esteya machine. The treatment is non-invasive, giving suitable patients an effective alternative to surgery, and is now available at ROC in Greenslopes Private Hospital.

With more than 350,000 non-melanoma skin cancers treated each year, the need for skin cancer services is great. This treatment uses low energy X-rays to target the cancerous site, with the ability to treat multiple lesions at once and a reduced chance of scarring. The treatment only takes a few minutes per day, with a couple of sessions a week across several weeks depending on the patient and type of skin cancer. The treatment has minimal recovery periods and improved cosmetic results.

This Esteya machine is the first in Asia Pacific and only the 11th machine in the world. Radiation oncologist and one of the founding directors of ROC, Prof Michael Poulsen said this cutting-edge treatment will positively impact many non-melanoma skin cancer patients.

“Some skin cancer patients may wish to avoid surgery for medical or cosmetic reasons — this provides them with a suitable alternative. This treatment benefits patients on anticoagulants, for example, Warfarin, as no changes to their medication would be required during their treatment. It’s also particularly effective for highly visible skin cancers on the nose, cheeks or lips, and in areas prone to wound closure problems like the webs of fingers as it provides a good cosmetic outcome,” Prof Poulsen said.

“Due to the non-invasive nature of this treatment, there is minimal recovery time, which allows patients to return to their normal routine quickly.”

Cancer Council Queensland’s Katie Clift welcomed the Australian-first treatment.

“More than 350,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are treated in Queensland every year. This new technology will offer yet another avenue to encourage people to seek treatment for skin cancer,” Clift said.

“Our hope is that options like this will eliminate some of the fears associated with the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer, encouraging more Queenslanders to get suspicious skin spots checked immediately, with confidence that they can recover to good health quickly.”

For Susan Leigh-Smith, who has a basal cell carcinoma on her nose, this option was a welcome relief.

“I was very concerned about coming off my strong blood-thinning medication to have surgery. When my skin doctor referred me to ROC and they explained this new treatment I was happy to proceed,” said Leigh-Smith.

Greenslopes Private Hospital CEO Tim Daniel welcomed the arrival of Australia’s first Esteya machine.

“We have a 70+ year history of fostering innovation and offering high quality services to our patients. When it comes to cancer treatment, Greenslopes Private Hospital is committed to delivering a wide range of options in a comfortable and supportive environment. ROC’s skin brachytherapy service gives patients another early intervention and choice in the treatment of their non-melanoma skin cancers,” said Daniel.

The Esteya machine is highly mobile, allowing for ease of access and precise accuracy to the cancer site. This treatment will be suitable for patients with non-melanoma skin cancers up to 5 mm in depth and 2 cm in diameter. It will have the capacity to treat around 40 patients a day and is also an affordable option with low out-of-pocket expenses.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Damian Gretka

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