I have seen and treated countless skin cancers of varying difficulty but never before have I seen a tumor GROW while under radiation treatment…until I met Mr. Don Huey. Last Fall, I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Huey who had a high-grade squamous cell carcinoma on his right temple that he saw grow from a small pimple to a large mass in a matter of weeks. He was not a good surgical candidate due to low blood pressure so electron therapy was the natural approach. Radiation therapy yields cure rates equivalent to surgery with much less risk. We started once daily radiation treatment but by the second week, Mr. Huey and I could clearly see that the mass was growing. His medical oncologist even administered a radiation sensitizer but nothing seemed to be working.

At The University of Chicago where I did my residency, we routinely treated aggressive head and neck cancers with twice daily radiation. This doubling of dose with six hours between fractions proved very effective at killing aggressive tumors. I told Mr. Huey that we needed to change his fractionation schedule to get ahead of the tumor and that he would need to come in twice a day for the remainder of his treatment. He agreed and as you can see from the pictures, the skin reaction was rather intense but well worth it as he achieved complete remission. Here he is smiling at our last follow up appointment, showing off his good side, cancer free.