Comprehensive Skin Cancer Treatment

Skin cancer is a condition that we treat with a great deal of gentleness and precision. Several approaches may be taken, and we base treatment around particulars in order to produce the most favorable outcome. We offer the innovative, effective MOHS surgery with our specialist, Dr. Nicholas Snavely. More information on this state-of-the-art procedure can be found on our MOHS page.

Excision

For many years, a standard form of skin cancer removal has been standard excision. This method of skin cancer removal is suitable for the treatment of many basal and squamous cell carcinomas. A standard excision is performed after the area has been numbed with a local anesthetic. Your doctor makes fine incisions around the cancerous lesion, and carefully removes the cancer, as well as a small amount of tissue surrounding the lesion itself. The area is then stitched, and it will heal over the course of a few weeks. Large excisions may require reconstructive surgery. In a comprehensive consultation regarding cancer treatment, we will discuss which type of removal method may be most appropriate. Depending on where the skin cancer is located, MOHS may be the preferred method of removal, particularly when it is important to preserve a high amount of tissue for aesthetics.

Cryotherapy

The term cryotherapy refers to the freezing of a growth or lesion. This treatment is used only occasionally, and for smaller cancers that affect the surface layer of the skin. Performed in our office, cryotherapy involves spraying the cancerous growth with liquid nitrogen, the same substance used to treat warts. There is only minimal discomfort associated with cryotherapy, often described as a bee sting sensation. As the liquid nitrogen works on cancer cells, you may feel a mild ache. Soon after application, a blister will begin to develop over the lesion. Sometimes this blister will contain blood, which may have to be drained using a very fine, sterile needle. It is always important that the top of the blister remain intact. A dressing is placed over the blister, which will form into a scab. Within a few weeks, this scab will fall off, taking cancer cells with it. In some cases, subsequent treatments are necessary to eliminate the cancerous lesion fully.

Electrodessication and curettage

Curettage is the process of scraping away skin affected by new basal or squamous cell carcinomas. Most effective at treating the surface layer of skin, curettage may be followed up with electrodessication, or electrosurgery. The process is completed after the area has been numbed with local anesthetic. A sharp, spoon-shaped curette is then used to take a tumor to its base. Electrosurgery, which delivers a safe, precise electric current to affected tissues, is then applied to remove remaining cancer cells that may not have been scraped away. This treatment is typically used only on lesions smaller than 1cm with well-defined borders.

Topical chemotherapy

There are certain creams/lotions that can be used for skin cancer treatment such as early basal cell carcinoma on the body. Aldara cream (imiquimod) and Efudex cream (fluorouracil) are treatment options for early superficial basal cell carcinoma, and their use in the treatment of other early skin cancers is being investigated. These creams can be irritating to the skin, occasionally create other systemic side effects such as flu-like symptoms, and must be used for weeks. However, in certain situations in which surgery is not feasible, or the skin cancer is located in a very sensitive cosmetic area, topical chemotherapy may have a role. The downside is the lack of margin control verifying complete removal of the tumor.

Radiation therapy

Sometimes radiation therapy is used to treat aggressive skin cancers either in combination with the above therapies or alone. We work with radiation oncologists and other specialists when this additional treatment is needed.

The most effective treatment of skin cancer comes from a thorough, in-person consultation and evaluation. We encourage you to make an appointment if you have a lesion or mole that is causing concern. When it is diagnosed properly, skin cancer is a condition that we can often treat with great success.

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