New skin cancer radiation treatment available in Kennewick

A new skin cancer treatment called High Dose Rate Brachytherapy is available at the Northwest Cancer Clinic in Kennewick.

The radiation treatment is delivered over a two week period and it takes just five minutes each treatment.

“We can use this technology anywhere on the body so on the face, the extremities, the trunk, often times people’s scalp – any of the sun exposed areas,” said Dr. Brian Lawenda, medical director at Northwest Cancer Clinic.

Dr. Lawenda said the effectiveness of the treatment is equivalent to what a patient would see after 4-7 weeks of standard radiation treatment.

He said the chances of the skin cancer reoccurring in the area is less than three percent.

He said usually doctors recommend Mohs surgery, the gold standards treatment. Doctors shave down one layer of skin at a time until they get to the bottom of the cancer.

But the HDR Brachytherapy gives patients another option.

“I didn’t want a (piece the) size of my thumb dug out of my nose so I chose the radiation,” said patient Gary Wooley, 76.

Wooley found out he had a skin cancer lesion on his nose in April. Two weeks ago he finished his last HDR Brachytherapy treatment.

Dr. Lawenda said in two more weeks his lesion should be gone.

New skin cancer radiation treatment available in Kennewick

“Using Brachytherapy basically causes the cancer to essentially shrink away and so whatever lesion was there or tumor was there will basically disappear,” said Dr. Lawenda.

Dr. Lawenda is an expert in the treatment. He has treated hundreds of patients in Las Vegas and moved to the Tri-Cities in 2016. For the last few months he has been using the new treatment on local patients.

“Many of them want to be treated with a very convenient, short course treatment if they are told that the efficacy is really no different,” said Dr. Lawenda.

He said he enjoys treating patients with skin cancer because there is about a 97+ percent chance of eradicating the cancer in a short period of time.

The HDR Brachytherapy treatment is covered by most insurances.

May is also Skin Cancer Awareness month. Dr. Lawenda says to prevent skin cancer it is important to limit UV light exposure, especially from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

He recommends people cover their skin and wear sunscreen that is at least SPF 15.