Wide field radiation therapiesExtending the options in skin field cancerisation with VMAT radiotherapy
Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most common cancer in the UK. Although it can arise in isolation, a significant group of patients have extensive skin field cancerisation (ESFC) where pre-cancerous lesions (actinic keratosis) pre-exist with cancerous lesions – basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This carries a high risk of recurrence of pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions, requiring repeated treatment over many years. The ongoing risk of skin cancer and the physical and cosmetic impacts of disease and interventions can affect the patients’ quality of life.
The increasing role of radiotherapy in treatment of NMSC and skin field cancerisation
Although new BCC or SCCs tend to be treated focally, a field-directed approach is optimal for patients who have substantial field UV damage with multiple AKs. Radiotherapy treatment is indicated for moderate to severe degrees of skin cancerisation where topical treatments are ineffective or intolerable in managing ESFC. It may also be used when multiple surgical excisions have made the patient surgically ‘weary’.
Recently, modern radiotherapy techniques such as Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) have been used in countries, including Australia, for management of ESFC with positive outcomes. This highly conformal technique gives a more homogenous dose delivery and effectively treats large areas of skin while sparing deep tissue from toxicity, even in highly curved areas, such as whole arms or legs. It can also be used where the skin surface overlies organs that could be harmed by radiotherapy, for example, the scalp while sparing the brain tissue from irradiation.
Based on the wide experience and success of this modality by our parent company in Australia, GenesisCare has introduced VMAT to the UK for the treatment of ESFC. We are the first provider in the UK to offer this treatment as part of our evidence-based approach to introducing advanced and innovative treatments.
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In Australia, more than 4000 patients have been treated with radiotherapy for ESFC and a registry has been established to monitor the safety and efficacy outcomes.
A retrospective study of 41 patients with a total of 63 treatment fields for ESFC and 12 months after radiotherapy found that 86% of patients showed complete clearance of fields after their treatment and no cases of invasive cancers were observed.1 However, eight new skin lesions were identified in seven fields, seven cases of Actinic Keratosis and one of Bowen’s disease. Additionally, 98% of patients graded cosmesis as “excellent” or ”good”.
- GenesisCare, data on file
Patients eligible for VMAT
The following patients can be considered for VMAT radiotherapy treatment at GenesisCare for ESFC where:
- The patient has tried other treatments but they have not prevented recurrence of further pre-cancerous lesions (AK)
- The patient has tried other treatments but they have not prevented multiple skin cancer formation
- The patient is immunosuppressed (e.g. due to solid organ transplantation)
- The patient has not tolerated other treatments
The VMAT skin service has been developed in collaboration with our parent company in Australia, where more than 4,000 patients have been treated. Protocols are reviewed by our UK Clinical Governance Committee and are delivered through the Skin Clinical Reference Group, selected for their expertise and experience of skin radiotherapy treatments.