The Total Skin Center knows that the key to cure in the majority of skin cancer cases is early detection and treatment. In the case of BCCs and SCCs, treatment is based on site, size, stage and type of tumor. Unlike BCCs and SCCs, malignant Melanomas always require surgical excision and microscopic examination. They should not be treated by “freezing” or “burning”.
Currettage and Cautery
This surgical procedure can be used in the treatment of superficial BCCs. Using a surgical curette, the tumor is scraped at its base to remove it from underlying tissue. Next, electrocautery is used to destroy any remaining tumor cells and for controlling bleeding. This procedure leaves a flat, round, white scar that usually has a good cosmetic appearance. When performed by a specialist the cure rate is over 90%.
Surgical excision can be used for most BCCs, SCCs and all melanomas. Using a scalpel, the entire tumor is removed. Repair is performed with suture. This results in a more cosmetically acceptable scar, when compared to curettage and cautery.
This technique is for skin cancers in difficult areas such as the corner of the eye. Using careful mapping techniques, the amount of tissue to be removed can be minimized. As with other excision techniques, a flap or skin graft may be needed to close larger wounds.
Liquid nitrogen is sprayed onto the tumor to freeze it to –20˚C to -40˚C, the point at which tissue dies. This process is repeated in a series of freeze-thaw cycles, until the tumor has been completely destroyed. Cryosurgery is usually limited to smaller tumors.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
A photosensitizing cream is applied to the treatment area. A special light is placed over the area. This results in an interaction between the cream and the light, which in turn destroys cancer cells. This procedure may need to be repeated at 2 to 4 week intervals and has a lower cure rate than surgical excision.
Stimulating the immune system, Imiquimod helps the body to fight and destroy skin cancer cells. This cream is applied 5 to 7 times a week for a period of weeks to months. Cure rates are lower but cosmetic results are excellent.
Surveillance and Subsequent Management
If you have had one skin cancer, then you are more likely to develop others. Depending on the type of tumor you have, this may be more or less frequent in the development of subsequent cancers. Surveillance scheduled at regular intervals is advised.