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July 2015

A Sudden and Concerning Increase in the Use of Electronic Brachytherapy for Skin Cancer

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
  • 2Department of Dermatology, University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • 3Department of Dermatology, Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine
JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(7):699-700. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.0385

Basal cell carcinomas and cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas affect more than 3.6 million Americans annually and have potential for substantial long-term morbidity if untreated. The most common management options (electrodessication and curettage, excision, Mohs surgery, and topical agents) range in typical cost from approximately $200 to $2100.

Radiation therapy has long been used for selected skin cancers, typically reserved as second-line therapy for patients with surgical contraindications or as adjuvant therapy for high-risk lesions. Recently, newer electronic surface brachytherapy (EBT) devices have appeared in dermatology offices, marketed as a painless, nonsurgical option.

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