Focusing on Treatment Education this May for Skin Cancer Awareness Month in Italy

Focusing on Treatment Education this May for Skin Cancer Awareness Month in Italy

OncoBeta GmbH, a global medical device company specialising in innovative therapies for non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs), is supporting World Skin Cancer Awareness Month (May 2024) by focusing on educating patients suffering with NMSCs about the various treatment options currently available.

Global incidence continues to rise, with over 7.7 million cases of NMSC recorded annually.1 In response, the medical community is striving to enhance standard treatments and embrace new alternative approaches, enabling patients to personalise their care based on factors such as lesion localization, size, single or multiple lesions, age, other health conditions, and patient preference – all of which influence treatment selection. The overarching goal is to provide the optimal medical solution, achieve aesthetic outcomes, and prioritise a patient’s quality of life.

Gerhard Dahlhoff, OncoBeta Medical Director, says, “Education is critical for addressing the rising rates of NMSCs globally, and knowing different treatment options available will hopefully alleviate the stress and anxiety surrounding a diagnosis. Treatments can impact your work life, home life or even retirement life but thanks to innovative treatment alternatives, you can now find the one that is effective and minimises the impact on your mental and physical wellbeing.”

Laurie Leppard, residing in the Gold Coast, Australia, recently underwent treatment for a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) situated on his left ear.  Initial treatment options included surgery, risking disfigurement due to necessary cartilage removal, or radiation that would exacerbate his claustrophobia.

Traditional radiation would’ve required me to wear a mask over my face during sessions, which was considerably daunting given my claustrophobia – especially as I would’ve needed more than 20 daily treatment visits,” explains Laurie. “I really wasn’t keen for surgery, and worries about more complications, so I made it my mission to research alternatives. When I discovered the newer rhenium-188 treatment – a mask-free, single-session, painless alternative without scarring – I jumped at it. Given that each clinic visit entails a 100km round trip, the single-session rhenium-188 treatment saved me considerable time, energy, discomfort, and disruption to my life.”

Dr Prof Paolo Castellucci, specialist Nuclear Medicine physician at Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria S.Orsola di Bologna and author of more than 180 peer-reviewed scientific works, says, “In Italy there are approximately 25.000 cases per year of NMSC. Most of the cases are treated with surgery, but still many are not easy to treat and are referred for other types of treatment including brachytherapy using rhenium-188.”

In 2022, OncoBeta conducted research in Australia with over 1,200 people, to better understand attitudes towards skin health and treatment considerations. Australia has the highest incidence of recorded NMSCs, so this research provides valuable insights. The research asked patients diagnosed with NMSCs what factors they ranked highest: 97% said ‘successful removal of the lesion’ was extremely or very important. This was followed by ‘fast recovery’ (90%) then ‘quick and easy procedure’ (88%). More than three quarters of NMSC patients said a ‘painless’ procedure was extremely or very important (77%), followed by ‘good aesthetic results’ (76%) and ‘non-invasive’ (73%).2 §

The same research found that 81% of patients were treated surgically or with a combination of surgery and non-surgical treatments, however most respondents stated that it was extremely or very important for their treatment to be painless, non-invasive and provide good aesthetic results.2

Mainstay treatments for NMSC include surgery, radiotherapy, cryotherapy and now epidermal radioisotope therapy, a procedure utilising the beta emitter radioisotope, rhenium-188:

  • Surgery is a common treatment option for non-melanoma skin cancer; in particular ‘Mohs’ surgery. This is an invasive procedure to remove the cancer in several steps. First, a thin layer of tissue is removed. Then, a second thin layer of tissue is removed and viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Layers are removed one at a time until the tissue viewed under a microscope shows no remaining cancer.
  • Electrodessication and curettage is an option for some non-melanoma skin cancers. The doctor scoops out the cancer with a small, spoon-shaped instrument, then seals the wound and destroys any remaining cancer cells using heat.
  • External beam radiation is sometimes used instead of surgery, especially for large NMSCs or for people who are not well enough to have surgery.3,4 It uses electron or photon beams to kill the cancer cells.
  • Light-based treatment may be recommended for early-stage NMSCs. For 2-3 weeks the skin is prepared by applying cream or ointment daily. Then the doctor places you under an LED phototherapy lamp. This provokes an immune reaction by your body which kills the skin cancer. The process may or may not be painful.
  • Cryotherapy (freezing) can be used for small, shallow skin cancers. After applying an anaesthetic, the doctor uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the cancer and destroy the cells. A blister or sore may form which heals, revealing healthy skin. Reduced skin pigmentation may occur.
  • Topical treatment, a chemotherapy cream can be applied to the skin for a period of time, for treatment of Bowen’s disease – a mild, slow-growing type of skin cancer. Burning, redness and sores may occur.
  • Rhenium-SCT is a localised radiation therapy that uses the rhenium-188 isotope which is applied as a paste directly to the lesion – it is a single session* lasting 45 to 180 minutes.5-7 It is painless6,7† and non-invasive6‡. A crust or scab forms that may become itchy. Rhenium-188 therapy leaves no scar but the skin may appear lighter.

“Rhenium-SCT satisfies the important characteristics for treatment, since it is painless, effective with more than 90% complete response after just one single application, it is non-invasive so little to no scarring, it is a short treatment duration with negligible early side effects. Moreover long-term cosmetic results are excellent in the majority of the treated patients,” adds Dr Prof Castellucci.

Early detection is key for treating skin cancer. World Skin Cancer Awareness Month offers key education about NMSCs and is an important reminder for people to regularly get their skin checked by a health professional. Ignoring a change in the skin or avoiding having it checked and monitored by a health professional means it may grow and/or spread to other parts of the body, or in the worst case it may become life-threatening.

OncoBeta’s Skin Cancer Treatment Awareness Month campaign is encouraging everyone to visit a GP, dermatologist, or other skin health specialist to inspect any changes to their skin, and if necessary to learn about ALL treatments that are available.


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