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Skin Cancer Treatments

Treatment

Treatment for skin cancer usually involves surgery. In some cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be used. Sometimes a combination of methods is used.

Treatments include:

Surgery

Many skin cancers can be cut from the skin quickly and easily. In fact, the cancer is sometimes completely removed during biopsy, and no further treatment is needed. Surgical techniques include:

Curettage and Electrodesiccation

This involves scooping the cancer out with a curette (an instrument with a sharp, spoon-shaped end). The area is treated with an electric current to control bleeding. This also kills any cancer cells remaining around the edge of the wound. This technique is used for very small or superficial cancers in noncosmetically vital areas.

Mohs' Surgery

Mohs' surgery involves the removal of all of the cancerous tissue. The surgeon will try to remove as little healthy tissue as possible. This method is used to remove:

  • Large tumors
  • Tumors in hard-to-treat places
  • Tumors of undetermined shape and depth
  • Cancers that have recurred
The procedure is performed by specially trained dermatologic Mohs surgeons. The cancer is shaved off one thin layer at a time. Each layer is checked under a microscope for cancer cells until the entire tumor is removed. This method offers the highest chance of a cure.

Cryosurgery

Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and kill the abnormal cells. After the area thaws, the dead tissue falls off. More than one freezing may be needed to remove the growth completely. This method may be used to treat precancerous skin conditions (actinic keratoses) and certain small or superficial skin cancers.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy uses a narrow beam of light to remove or destroy cancer cells. This method is sometimes used for cancers that involve only the outer layer of skin.

Radiation Therapy (Radiotherapy)

Radiation therapy uses radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Topical Chemotherapy

Topical chemotherapy is the use of drugs, in the form of cream or lotion, to kill cancer cells. This method is successful in treating precancerous conditions and cancers limited to the outer layer of the skin. The most common topical chemotherapy used is a form of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or imiquimod cream.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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