Although skin cancer affects more than one million Americans each year, it is also considered highly treatable if caught quickly. There are three main kinds of skin cancer, but a variety of different treatment options available depending on each unique case. Listed below are common treatments that have been proven effective to eliminate or stop skin cancer cells from dividing.
Depending on the level of treatment necessary, one or more surgical procedures can be used to treat skin cancer. If you have been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer, the following surgical procedures may be used to remove the affected areas.
- Mohs Microrgraphic Surgery: Often used as a skin cancer treatment option for lesions on the face, Mohs micrographic surgery removes the tumor from the skin in thin layers. During the procedure, a microscope is used to make sure that no more cancer cells are visible, and the least amount of normal tissue possible is removed.
- Simple Excision: With this form of surgery, the tumor is cut away from the skin as well as some of the normal surrounding skin.
- Shave Excision: During shave excision, a small blade is used to shave off the abnormal area of the skin.
- Cryosurgery: This treatment option uses a device that freezes and destroys any abnormal tissue. It is also referred to as cryotherapy.
- Laser Surgery: To make bloodless cuts in the tissue or to eliminate a surface lesion like a tumor, a laser beam is used as a knife.
- Dermabrasion: An instrument with small particles or a rotating wheel removes the top layer of skin cells.
To destroy cancer cells or to keep them from growing, high-energy x-rays or alternative forms of radiation can be used as part of radiation therapy. There are two different forms of radiation therapy: external radiation therapy and internal radiation therapy. During external radiation therapy, a machine located outside of the body targets the cancer with radiation. With internal radiation therapy, a radioactive substance is placed in the body using wires, needles, seeds, or catheters.
This type of skin cancer treatment involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells or prevent cancer cells from dividing. Chemotherapy that is administered by mouth or injected into a muscle or vein is able to reach cancer cells when the drugs enter the bloodstream. If chemotherapy is administered into the cerebrospinal fluid, a body cavity, or an organ, the drugs primarily affect that specific area. For non-melanoma forms of skin cancer, chemotherapy can be applied topically.
Another treatment for skin cancer is photodynamic therapy that kills cancer cells using a drug with a specific kind of laser. The drug does not become active until it is exposed to light. When used as a skin cancer treatment, a laser is shined onto the skin to activate the drug. This treatment option causes minimal damage to the healthy surrounding skin.
With biologic therapy, the patient’s own immune system is used to fight the disease. Different substances that are either created in a lab or produced by the body are used to restore or boost natural defenses that battle cancer. The biologic agents that fight skin cancer include imiquimod and interferon. As a squamous cell skin cancer treatment, interferon may be injected. For basal skin cancer treatment, topical imiquimod therapy can be an option.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If you have noticed an abnormal lesion on the skin or have been diagnosed with skin cancer and would like to know more about your skin cancer treatment options, set up a consultation at Boulder Plastic Surgery by giving us a call at 303-578-4193. After an evaluation, we will discuss all of your options as well as any question and concerns to determine the best possible course of treatment.