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 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
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 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 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.
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