Electron Beam Therapy for Skin Cancer

Electron Beam Therapy for Skin Cancer

Electron therapy is a specialized form of radiation therapy which can treat skin cancer. This treatment method is especially useful for delicate areas such as eyelids, ears, nose, or lips.

What is Electron Therapy for Skin Cancer?

Much like other forms of radiation therapy, electron therapy treats cancer by damaging the DNA of cancerous cells. The aim of this method is to damage as many cancerous cells as possible while minimizing damage to healthy, normal cells.

Electron beam radiation consists of tiny electrically charged particles (electrons) which are generated by a linear accelerator. The linear accelerator can then deliver doses to the area which is being treated. Electrons do not penetrate deep into tissue, so the radiation exposure to deep tissues is minimal.

Electron Therapy Can Treat:

  • Skin lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Mycosis fungoides

Electron therapy can be used in conjunction with other types of treatment. Electron therapy may be used as a ‘booster dose’ of radiation for areas that have been treated by another form of radiotherapy, or where a tumor was removed in order to prevent recurrence.


Example of Electron Beam Therapy. Image courtesy of the European Society of Radiology (ESR).

What to Expect Treatment:

  • During treatment, you may either be lying down or standing in a small chamber, depending on what areas are being treated.
  • Your radiation therapist will position you and ensure that you are in the correct position.
  • During treatment, your radiation therapist will be in a separate room. They will monitor you and control the electron therapy machine during treatment. They will be in constant communication during the treatment by way of speakers.
  • Spot treatment only lasts a few minutes. You must remain still during the entire procedure.
  • Electron therapy is painless, and you will not feel any discomfort during the procedure.
  • You can stop therapy at any point if you are uncomfortable.

Electrons only penetrate the skin and do not go deep into tissue, so the radiation dose to deep tissue is minimal. You may experience side effects following treatment. Your radiation oncologist or nurse will go over potential side effects, and will always be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

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AnMed Cancer Center, 2000 E Greenville St, Anderson, SC 29621

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