Skin Cancer Awareness Month: What Are the Treatment Options?
What You Can Do About Skin Cancer Treatment
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. While it pays to know the early signs of skin cancer, how much do you know about your treatment options? Here’s some more information.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs micrographic surgery has been lauded as one of the most effective skin cancer treatments currently available. During this procedure, a surgeon will systematically remove tissue from the site of the cancer and send samples to an on-site lab for analysis. The systematic removal of tissue continues until the lab results show only healthy cells. At that point, the surgery stops. Aside from its precision, there are a few reasons why Mohs is so popular.
- It helps preserve aesthetics
- It helps preserve function
- It doesn’t require excessive down-time
- It minimizes chances of cancer recurrence
- It is effective on aggressive cancers
In addition to these benefits, most patients only require a single surgery to achieve effective skin cancer treatment.
Excisional surgery is similar to Mohs in that Mohs IS a type of excision. That being said, traditional excisional surgeries are not as systematic or precise as Mohs micrographic surgery. During a typical excisional surgery, a surgeon will cut out (excise) the cancerous tissue along with a measure of surrounding healthy tissue. While in most cases it’s important to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible, this method of excision is safer in some instances. A wide excision may be necessary if it’s undetermined how widespread the cancer may be.
Radiation therapy is a non-invasive procedure that makes use of low-energy X-ray beams. During this procedure, a doctor will utilize these X-rays to destroy a tumor without the need for any incisions or anesthesia. While this treatment can be effective for skin cancer, it’s important to note that it may take several sessions over the course of weeks or months to achieve positive results. If a patient is elderly or the cancer is hard to treat surgically, radiation therapy may be the safest form of skin cancer treatment.
Cryotherapy is a procedure in which cancerous tissue is frozen using liquid nitrogen. During this procedure, a doctor will apply liquid nitrogen to the site of the skin cancer with a cotton-tipped applicator or in spray form. It should be noted that this type of skin cancer treatment is mainly effective on superficial skin cancer. If you’ve been diagnosed with a superficial squamous cell carcinoma, for example, cryotherapy may be effective. Once the superficial tumor is frozen, the tissue will die and slough off, making room for new skin growth.
Chemotherapy involves using drugs to kill cancerous tissue and cells. If the cancer is limited to the topmost layers of skin, it may be possible to utilize a topical cream or lotion containing anti-cancer agents. Systemic chemotherapy, on the other hand, is used to treat cancers that have spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma patients may be advised to take this route, as this type of skin cancer spreads aggressively.
Preventive screenings are effective at identifying early signs of skin cancer, but knowing your treatment options can help you just as much. If you have questions about skin cancer treatment or want to set up a skin cancer screening, contact SE Dermatology Specialists today.