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Side effects

All treatments for skin cancer carry a risk of side effects.

People respond to treatments in different ways. Some side effects may appear in the short-term (known as acute side effects) or may appear several months later (long-term side effects).

Brachytherapy is well tolerated by most patients and the risk of long-term side effects is very low 1, 2, 3

Short-term (acute) side effects

As with all treatments you may experience some side effects immediately after the treatment procedure.

After brachytherapy, you may experience some of the following 1, 2, 3

  • Mild erythema (redness/rash)
  • Dry or moist desquamation, moderate edema


These short-term side effects are typically mild in nature and usually resolve soon, within 2 weeks, after treatment.


Long-term side effects

In the majority of cases, the area of skin being treated will return to normal appearance after a few weeks. With brachytherapy, as with other treatments, some long-term side effects may be witnessed.

Long-term side effects that may appear after brachytherapy 1, 2, 3

  • A slight mark or discolouration (either hypo-or hyper pigmentation) of the skin at the area of radiation therapy may occur.
  • Local hair loss at the site of radiation


Discuss your treatment options and the relative risks of potential side effects with your healthcare professional.

 

References

1. Bhatnagar, A., & Loper, A. (2010). The initial experience of electronic brachytherapy for the treatment of non melanoma skin cancer. Radiat oncol, 28(5), 87
2. Gauden, R., Pracy, M., Every, A. M., & Gauden, S. (2013). HDR brachytherapy for superficial non-melanoma skin cancers. J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol, 57(2), 212-217
3. Tormo, A., Perez Calatayud, J., Roldan, S., Lliso, F., Miranda, S., Carmona, V., et al. (2011). Preliminary Clinical results Using Valencia Applicator and a New Fracitonation in Non Melanoma Skin Cancer Treatments. Brachytherapy, 10, S14-S101