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Treatment Options: Radiation provides alternative to cosmetic surgery for skin cancer treatment

Treatment Options: Radiation provides alternative to cosmetic surgery for  skin cancer treatment

For 10 years, Barbara Sundermeyer had been battling a reoccurring form of basal cell carcinoma, more commonly known as skin cancer. She had spots on her lip and neck that had been removed surgically and when they came back most recently, she knew it would require the work of a plastic surgeon to avoid scarring on her face. But then she read an article in Campbell County Health’s Health Matters about using radiation to treat skin cancer and decided it was something she needed to look into further.

No one had ever told Barbara that radiation could be used to treat skin cancer and since her next surgery was going to be more invasive and require the delicate work of a plastic surgeon in Rapid City, she decided to check into the radiation option closer to home at the Heptner Cancer Center.

“I saw the words ‘skincare’ in the article and it jumped out at me. It was fate in a way,” Barbara said. “I was thrilled to see that as an option.”

It’s been a treatment option for more than 40 years, according to CCH’s Dr. John Stamato who specializes in radiation treatment for cancer.

Barbara Sundermeyer and Dr. John Stamato

“It really provides the best outcome,” Dr. Stamato said. “The cosmetic outcome is absolutely wonderful with radiation. And the side effects are only some redness at the site of the treatment area, which resolves within a few weeks.”

There’s also the added benefit of radiation targeting a larger area of the skin surface that will most likely kill any cancer cells in the surrounding areas as well. With surgical procedures, there’s a greater chance that some of the cancer cells may be missed.

Complete in just 20-30 daily treatments for four to six weeks, Dr. Stamato said the procedure is quick, easy, and painless, allowing patients to easily maintain their normal schedule with little effect on their appearance.

Now done with her treatment, Barbara said she is very pleased with the results.

“It’s very simple,” Barbara said. “I just zip in there and had it done. It took me longer to park the car and go in than it did for the actual treatment.”

When she first started treatment, she did have some blistering on the inside of her mouth and some redness around the treatment area, but the staff at the cancer center helped her find some mouth wash and cream that would help soothe those areas. The extra care and kindness of those working at the center are something that has stood out for Barbara.

“Every morning they greet you by name,” Barbara said. “They explain what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Checking in with Dr. Stamato once a week is very reassuring.”

Couple that with the convenience of having the treatment done close to home rather than driving several hours, Barbara said the Heptner Cancer Center is a great option for those in the region.
“It’s convenient to have it done here rather than drive to Rapid City,” Barbara said.

You can learn more about this treatment option available in Gillette at the Heptner Cancer Center by calling 307-688-1950 or visiting www.cchwyo.org/cancercare. Make sure you know all your skin cancer treatment options before you make a decision.

Article written by Kim Phagan-Hansel, Wyoming freelance writer