Treatment options for skin cancer and pre-cancerous skin lesions will vary depending on the type of lesion. Small skin cancers may simply require a skin biopsy to remove the entire growth, while other types of skin cancer may require other options such as:
Freezing (cryosurgery) — Early skin cancers and small lesions can be frozen using liquid nitrogen in a process known as cryosurgery. This kills the tissue and the body will discard the dead cells when it thaws.
Excision– Your doctor will cut out the cancerous skin tissue along with some of the healthy skin that surrounds it. This method is done to not only remove the harmful cancer cells, but also to reduce the likelihood of cancer recurrence by removing a margin of the cells around the cancer cells.
Mohs surgery - This procedure is used to treat larger or difficult skin cancer cases, and may also be used to treat recurring skin cancer cases. Mohs surgery is also used to treat skin cancer on parts where skin needs to be conserved, such as a person’s nose or lips.
For this procedure, the doctor will remove the skin affected by cancer in layers with the use of a microscope. Each layer of skin is removed one by one until all the abnormal / cancerous cells are removed.
Curettage with electrosurgery or cryotherapy – A combination of two procedures, the first is curettage; where the doctor will use a spoon-shaped blade to remove the skin cells affected by cancer.
Afterwards, the remaining cells will be:
- Burned using an electric needle (electrosurgery)
- Frozen with liquid nitrogen and then removed (cryotherapy)
Apart from the aforementioned procedures, other treatment methods may also be employed to treat skin cancer depending on the stage and severity.
Radiation therapy / radiotherapy – High-powered energy beams such as X-rays are used to kill the cancer cells. If the cancer cannot be completely removed by surgery, radiotherapy might be used.
Chemotherapy – In some cases, chemotherapy drugs are used to kill cancer cells in the person’s body. For skin cancers that are confined to the top layer of the skin, some anti-cancer agents or creams may be used instead of drugs. Chemotherapy is often used to treat cancers that have spread to other parts of the body.
Photodynamic therapy – By using drugs that makes cancer cells more sensitive to light, skin cancer is treated using laser light to destroy the cancer cells.