• Hand function after high dose rate brachytherapy for squamous cell carcinoma of the skin of the hand.

      Somanchi, B V; Stanton, Anthony; Webb, M; Loncaster, Juliette A; Allan, Ernest; Muir, L T S W; Department of Hand Surgery, Salford Royal Hospital, Salford M6 8HD, UK. brindavihari2001@yahoo.com (2008-11)
      AIMS: Current recommendations for the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the hand are almost unanimously in favour of ablative surgery. However, many of the patients are frail and elderly, and surgical techniques frequently involve skin grafts or amputation of digits. A non-invasive method of treatment is, therefore, often preferred. Radiotherapy using a brachytherapy technique is a well-established option. This study investigated whether patients found the treatment acceptable and assessed the outcome of treatment in terms of local control, cosmesis and hand function. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-five patients who underwent mould brachytherapy using a microselectron high dose rate radiotherapy device were available for assessment. We assessed the functional status of the hand and fingers by means of the Disability of Arm, Shoulder and Hand and Michigan Hand Outcomes questionnaires. We examined the hand to assess the severity of post-radiation stigmata. We enquired as to patient acceptability of treatment and outcome. RESULTS: Of 25 patients who agreed to participate, the fingers were affected in 15 and the dorsum of the hand in 10. The mean age at the time of radiotherapy was 69 years (range 50-87). There were no significant differences in parameters, such as range of motion of fingers and wrist, hand/finger grip strength, between the treated and opposite sides. Sensation, including two-point discrimination, was not significantly different from the untreated hand. Seventeen patients had minor skin changes. No patient found the treatment painful or unacceptable. Twenty patients were very satisfied and five patients were moderately satisfied with the cosmetic result. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that high dose rate brachytherapy is a safe and simple alternative to surgical treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the hand, as it is not only successful in eradicating tumour, but also preserves hand function.