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What will it take to stop the madness of irradiating the shin of elderly people who have skin cancer? I have posted cases like this before and some of you have sent me others. This man had radiation for skin cancer a few years ago. The non-healing wound that the radiation caused at the time required hyperbaric oxygen therapy and was very hard to heal. However, he was doing OK until a few weeks ago when he required a biopsy for a suspicious lesion in the irradiated field. Now he’s got an exposed tendon because the radiation damaged tissue just fell apart after the biopsy. There’s no way to heal this wound with exposed tendon. This time he will need a flap by a plastic surgeon. He’s otherwise healthy and plays golf regularly.

Shin Radiation

Elderly patients are told that radiation is better than surgery for skin cancer because they have “poor circulation.” However, as is the case in the other patients I have seen, there’s no underlying arterial disease. He didn’t even have leg edema. He would likely have healed even a very large skin cancer surgery without needing months of hyperbaric oxygen or a flap. But, thanks to the radiation, he’s got a really big problem.

What will it take to stop the madness of shin radiation?


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Dr. Fife sees patients at the CHI St. Luke's Hospital Wound Clinic in The Woodlands, Texas. For an appointment call (936) 266-2150.



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