Skin Cancer Treatments
Treatments for types of skin cancer can vary depending on the cancer stage and type.
Treatments for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
Standard treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer (basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas) include:
- Cryosurgery or freezing: Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to destroy early skin cancers.
- Curettage and electrodessication: These procedures involve physically scraping away the skin cancer cells followed by electrosurgery, which uses an electric needle to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
- Laser therapy: Laser therapy uses a finely focused intense beam of light to vaporize the cancerous growth with little to no damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
- Mohs surgery: Mohs surgery is used for larger, recurring or tough-to-treat cancers, which may include both basal and squamous cell carcinomas. In this process, the skin is removed layer-by-layer. Each layer is examined under the microscope until no abnormal cells remain. It allows cancerous cells to be removed without damaging healthy skin.
- Cancer drugs: Skin cancer drugs are typically topically applied retinoids. In cases where the cancer is more advanced, chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy may be used.
Brachytherapy for Skin Cancer
Brachytherapy is a non-surgical approach for treating basal and squamous cell skin cancer that reduces the risk of infection and permanent scarring. It uses a combination of advanced imaging, computer-based planning and treatment technology to deliver a high dose of radiation directly into the tumor or lesion. This targeted therapy minimizes damage to nearby healthy tissue and reduces side effects, such as scarring or infection.
Treatments for Melanoma Skin Cancer
Standard treatments for melanoma include:
- Wide surgical excision: Wide surgical excision removes the cancerous tissue as well as a surrounding margin of healthy skin.
- Sentinel lymph node mapping (for deeper lesions): Sentinel lymph node mapping helps to determine if the melanoma has spread to local lymph nodes.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can attack cancer cells that have spread to lymph nodes and other organs.
Clinical Trials for Skin Cancer
New methods in clinical trials are sometimes used to treat different types of skin cancer.