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Skin Cancer Treatment Options

Skin cancer treatment options can vary depending on the type and stage of the cancer. There are different options for non-melanoma skin cancers: Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas and actinic keratoses (precancerous lesions), and for Melanoma. Surgical removal is often the primary treatment for most skin cancers. Here is a list of skin cancer treatment options.

Surgical excision

Surgical excision is a common and effective treatment for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Using local anesthesia, the tumor is cut out of the skin along with a margin of healthy tissue. Stitches are used to close the wound. The removed tissue is sent to a lab to be examined for cancer cells that still exist.

Curettage and electrodesiccation

This procedure is used for localized, small skin cancers that involves locally numbing the treatment area followed by using a surgical instrument called a curette to remove cancerous cells followed by the use of hyfrecator, which loosens and burn off any remaining cancer cells. This process is repeated several times to remove the skin cancer during the in-office procedure.

Mohs surgery

Mohs surgery is a specialized procedure to remove skin cancers that are in sensitive areas (such as the nose or near the eye) or that are large and complicated. This type of procedure is considered a skin sparing surgery in which the least of normal skin is removed while removing the skin cancer. We currently refer out for Mohs surgery to our local specialists.

Radiation therapy

This treatment uses high-energy X-rays or other radiation sources to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. It is sometimes used when surgery is not an option, or in cases where cancer cells remain after surgery. We currently refer out for radiation therapy.

Topical medications

For certain superficial skin cancers like basal cell carcinoma and some pre-cancerous lesions, topical creams or ointments containing medications like imiquimod or 5-fluorouracil may be applied to the skin.

The choice of treatment depends on factors like the type of skin cancer, its stage, location, and the patient’s overall health. Dr. Rains is a board-certified dermatologist trained in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. He will work with you or your loved one to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.

Contact Dr. Michael Rains at Beacon Dermatology in Asheville, North Carolina to schedule an appointment if you are concerned about a skin lesion, and to schedule an annual skin cancer check to prevent or find skin cancer early when it is the most easily treated.

At a Glance

Michael Rains, MD, FAAD

  • Board certified in dermatology
  • Specializing in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology
  • Author of multiple peer-reviewed publications and previous adjunct faculty at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Learn more

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