Dermatologists treat skin cancer in many ways. They will select the best treatment according to several factors including:
- The type of skin cancer
- The aggressiveness of the skin cancer
- Where the skin cancer is on the body
- The overall health of the patient
- The stage of growth of the skin cancer
Once our dermatologists at Southeastern Dermatology have considered all of the above, he or she will select one or more methods of treatment. The goal of surgical treatments is to remove the cancer cells completely. The main surgical treatments are:
Excision – this treatment involves applying a topical anesthetic and cutting out the skin cancer along with a small margin of normal skin around the skin cancer. There are different types of excisions, and they can often be done in our dermatologist’s office.
Curettage and electrodesiccation – this treatment is mainly used for small squamous and basal cell skin cancers. A surgical instrument is used to scrape away the tumor, and an electric needle is used to cauterize the remaining cancer cells as well as some normal tissue. In some cases, the curettage tool is used alone.
Mohs surgery – a treatment done by our dermatologist who is trained in this procedure. First, the visible part of the skin cancer is removed. Since cancer cells cannot be seen without a microscope, some normal-looking skin is also removed. The doctor removes layers of skin one at a time. After one layer of skin is removed, the dermatologist will look at it under a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. If cancer cells are seen, another layer is removed. This is continued until there are no more cancer cells.
There are treatments for skin cancer other than surgery that may be used along with surgery. Also, if the cancer is caught in the early stages, these treatments may be all that is needed. These treatments include:
Cryosurgery – this treatment freezes the area. Then the skin cancer and some normal skin sloughs off.
Immunotherapy – our dermatologist will provide cream that allows the immune system of the patient to fight cancer.
Chemotherapy on the skin – this treatment is a chemical that is applied directly to the skin. It kills the skin cancer, and new skin grows in its place.
Chemotherapy – if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, chemotherapy may still be able to kill the cancer cells. These chemicals are taken internally either through injection or orally.
Radiation therapy – this treatment is mainly used for older people who have large areas of their body that are covered by skin cancer.
Photodynamic therapy – this treatment involves a chemical that is put on the skin cancer and left for some time, and then a special light that kills the cancer cells is focused on the place.
Skin cancer is a common ailment especially for people who spend time in direct sunlight. If you have a spot that looks different from other spots, it’s important to let one of our dermatologists look at it and do a biopsy to determine if it is cancerous. If you have any questions or concerns, we provide some resources to our patients. If you rather talk to someone face to face or still have questions, please feel free to contact us today to schedule a consultation.