SNMMI: Band-aid for cancer? Radioactive patch eradicates skin cancer

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MIAMI—A skin patch containing phosphorus-32 destroyed basal cell carcinoma in 80 percent of patients, according to a small study presented June 11 at the annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI). The novel treatment may open new doors in therapeutic nuclear medicine and lead to a new treatment standard for basal cell carcinoma, said Rakesh Kumar, MD, PhD, of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi.

Kumar and colleagues developed a phosphorus-32 (P-32) skin patch, a radiation spot-treatment in the form of a patch designed to kill skin tumors in the outpatient setting.

In the study, 10 patients between the ages of 32 and 74 years with facial basal cell carcinoma were treated with P-32 patches. Subjects had lesions near the eyes, the nose and the forehead, and all were treated locally with custom-made, sealed P-32 patches for three hours on an outpatient basis. The patches were reapplied on the fourth and seventh days after the first treatment for another three hours each, delivering a fragmented dose of 100 Gy to the cancerous lesions only.

Biopsies were taken at three months and repeated within the three years that followed treatment, and eight out of 10 patients were found to be entirely cured and cancer free. Clinical follow-up showed no toxicity and minimal scarring, said Kumar.

Further research will need to be conducted before the P-32 patch can be provided for general clinical use to treat basal cell carcinoma and similar superficial skin cancers, noted Kumar, who added that larger studies are ongoing.