Topical 188Re Ionizing Radiation Therapy Exerts High Efficacy in Curing Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

Clin Nucl Med. 2023 Oct 1;48(10):869-876. doi: 10.1097/RLU.0000000000004824.


Purpose of the report: Nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most frequent malignancy. Surgical intervention is the common treatment but may lead to disappointing results; alternative treatment options are needed.

Methods: In this monocentric pilot study, topical 188Re resin was investigated as a treatment for invasive NMSC up to 3-mm thickness. Twenty-two patients with 40 histologically confirmed NMSCs with a median size of 1.25 cm2 (range, 0.04-16.8 cm2) and a median tumor thickness of 0.35 mm (range, 0.1-2.1 mm) were included. Patients were treated once with 188Re resin with a targeted dose of 50 Gy. The median applied activity was 111.4 MBq (range, 21.0-168.0 MBq), and the median treatment time was 89 minutes (range, 38-175 minutes). The response rate, adverse events, and cosmetic outcome were assessed at 14 days, 4 months, and 12 months.

Results: Response rate at 12 months was 97.5%, with 95% complete responses (clinically or histologically proven in case of clinical doubt). Most adverse events were reported at 14 days, with 20% itching and 12.5% mostly minor pain. Forty-nine percent of the lesions showed hypopigmentation only at 12 months. Forty-one percent of the lesions were graded as cosmetically superior to the expected result after surgery and 51.3% as comparable to successful surgery. The cosmetic outcome on the head and face was superior compared with the trunk and leg (P = 0.003).

Conclusion: 188Re resin is a highly effective treatment for NMSC up to 3-mm thickness and a valid alternative to surgery, specifically for tumors located on sensitive areas such as nose or ear.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Radiation, Ionizing
  • Radioisotopes
  • Rhenium*
  • Skin Neoplasms* / radiotherapy


  • Rhenium-188
  • Radioisotopes
  • Rhenium