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Patient Resources

 

Things You Should Know...About Skin Cancer

Skin cancers are most commonly caused by sun exposure and are located on the face, ears, chest, back, arms, tops of feet and hands. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common diagnosed skin cancers.

 By the time you have come to us for radiation treatment, your dermatologist has already performed a biopsy, where the cancer has been removed and sent for evaluation by a pathologist. The pathologist determines cell type, location, and size.

Radiation treatments are cosmetically preferred for most patients because they are not invasive while treating the lesion. The following are side effects that may occur:

  • Skin Reactions: Only the skin exposed to radiation will be affected. The skin may look red and flakey. Keeping your skin clean with a mild soap and lukewarm water and drying with a soft towel will help. Do not scrub the skin with loofas or gritty soaps, or massage area of treatment. Soaps approved by the Palomar Radiation Oncology Department are: Dove, Aveno (Oatmeal), Neutrogena for sensitive skin. Do not wear any deodorant or perfumes on the area of treatment. These items can contain skin irritants that may have an adverse effect with the radiation exposure. Consult with the nurses before you use any lotions or ointments on this area as well. The radiation therapist will tell you not to apply any lotion or ointment to the treatment site before your daily treatment. Once your daily treatment is complete, you may apply lotions or ointments to the area. This is to prevent any adverse effect the radiation exposure may produce with the lotion.
  • Temporary Hair Loss: Hair in the treatment area will most likely shed within the first few weeks. It will re-grow three to six months after your last treatment.
  • Fatigue: During the last few weeks of treatment you may feel a decrease in energy levels. This is normal and we suggest that you listen to your body and rest when necessary. Exercise and work can be performed during treatment, as long as you remain within your levels of comfort. It is a good idea to discuss your plans with medical staff.
  • Counseling: Our nursing staff has resources and experience in dealing with the many and varied needs that may arise during this challenging time in your life. Do not hesitate to ask questions, or ask for help. We are here for you and your family.

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