UnityPoint Health is now offering Skin Brachytherapy to combat the most common form of cancer in the nation. An average of 3.3 million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer. In Central Illinois, the largest affected demographic is the senior community. UnityPoint Health is the first healthcare organization to offer the new skin cancer treatment in the region.
“Skin Brachytherapy uses a medical instrument resembling a metal thimble. It is placed on the affected skin for a higher dose of radiation. It’s not invasive. There’s no needles or cutting involved and it’s very safe, effective, with minimal side effects,” says Dr. Candace Correa, Radiation Oncologist.
Skin Brachytherapy cuts the amount of radiation therapy sessions from daily treatments to 2-3 a week. Before this new treatment, most skin cancer patients underwent an average of about 20 daily radiation sessions.
“Because the majority of skin cancer patients we serve are older, this is a more convenient option for them. In the past, we’ve had many patients decline their treatment because 20 sessions was not feasible for them,” says Correa.
Correa recommends a visit to the dermatologist if a person has a suspicious mark on their skin. The early signs of skin cancer look like a scratch or a wound that won’t heal that was not a result of an injury. It’s important to seek medical attention before the area grows and becomes painful. Those with an increased risk include senior citizens, individuals with fair skin and light eyes, and anyone who’s had a sunburn.
“I’m excited to be able to offer our community a treatment option they can accept. It’s rewarding to help our patients have a quality life for them to enjoy the activities they love and spend time with their grandchildren for many years to come,” says Correa.
Before UnityPoint Health, the closest metropolitan cities to offer this treatment was Chicago and St. Louis.
For more information, visit unitypoint.org