Treatment is necessary to destroy and remove a cancer. The size and location of a skin cancer, the patient’s medical history, health, age and the risk of scarring help determine the best form of treatment for the patient. Skin cancer treatment is usually some form of surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. In come cases, a doctor may suggest a combination of these methods to remove the skin cancer from the patient.
Common types of skin cancer treatment are:
Basil cell and squamous cell carcinomas (cancers) are usually treated with surgery. Surgery is a quick and easy way to remove skin cancer and the recovery time is usually very short. One concern is to leave as small and unnoticeable scar as possible. If the area where a cancer is removed is large, skin grafting may be required to minimize the amount of scarring if a large tumor is removed.
Cancer involving the outer layer of skin can be treated using laser therapy. A highly focused beam of light can be used to destroy destroys cancer cells on the skin.
Small skin cancers, actinic keratoses and other precancerous skin conditions can be treated with cryosurgery. Liquid nitrogen is sprayed on the skin to freeze and kill abnormal cells. The dead skin falls off when the area thaws. There may be some stinging when the nitrogen is applied, and there may be some pain and swelling when the area thaws out.
The best treatment is probably radiation to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing. Radiation is often used for treating areas that are hard to treat with surgery like the tip of the nose and ear or as an alternative to surgery. Radiation takes longer to complete and has some other short-term side effects that the patient should be aware of.
Topical chemotherapy, where an anticancer drug in the form of a lotion or creams is applied to the skin may be the best treatment for cancers limited to the outer layer of skin, typically on the face, neck and ears. Two types that I’ve used are Effudex and Fluoroplex. Both were effective at removing abnormal skin cells and left my face looking like I had a severe sunburn until the skin healed.
When you have a skin cancer you may become concerned about the cancer spreading through your body and getting worse. Even though there are several effective skin cancer treatments, skin cancer can reoccur somewhere else on the body. Follow up treatments with your doctor, regular self exams and a periodic checkup by a dermatologist are important to catch skin cancers early. Following your doctor’s instructions is important to minimize the risk of skin cancer recurring again.