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Skin Cancer Treatment


Skin cancer is divided into two stages - local and metastatic. Depending on the stage and type of skin cancer treatments and drugs are decided. Also the treatments for skin cancer and for precancerous lesions (actinic keratoses) and skin cancer would depend on the location, size, depth and type of the lesions. Most of the melanoma treatments are performed in the outpatient setting and require only a local anesthetic but some of the abnormal cells are often destroyed with tropical medications or removed surgically. An initial biopsy sometimes can remove a small cancerous growth and in such cases no further treatment is required.


Skin cancer treatment options include -
Freezing - Some specialists prefer using liquid nitrogen to freeze a small, early skin cancer growth. When the dead tissue thaws it slugs off by itself. This treatment for skin cancer is also commonly used for actinic keratoses. Freezing can sometimes leave a small white scar and may need to be repeated to completely remove the cancerous growth.
Laser therapy - This therapy can be used to treat precancerous growths on lips or superficial skin cancer. An intense and precise beam of light is used to vaporize the cancerous growth. Laser therapy can cause minimal bleeding, scarring or swelling and little damage to the surrounding tissue.
Excision surgery - This treatment mode can be used for almost all types of skin cancer. In this the specialist cuts out the cancerous tissue and healthy skin surrounding it. In some cases it is recommended to remove some extra tissue surrounding the tumor to avoid any recurrences. It is better to consult a specialist in skin construction to minimize the risk of scarring, especially on the face.
Mohs surgery - This melanoma treatment is mainly used for recurring, larger or difficult to treat skin cancers.  A specialist may examine each layer of skin under the microscope and remove skin growth layer by layer until no abnormal cells remain.
Radiation therapy - If surgery is not an option available then radiation therapy can be used to treat both squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas.
Chemotherapy - Cancer which has been spread to other body parts can be treated with systemic chemotherapy. Tropical drugs can be used to kill the superficial cancer cells.
Curettage and electro desiccation - A circular blade or cruet is used to scrap away the layers of cancer cells after removing most of the cancerous growth. This method is simple and quick and destroys any remaining cancer cells.
Other treatments for skin cancer which are under study include photodynamic therapy and biological therapy.

Submitted on September 4, 2008