There Are Multiple Treatments Available to Treat Skin Cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the United States sees more than 5 million new cases of skin cancer every year. Although there’s no way to downplay the seriousness of the health concern, a number of treatment options for Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma exists.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Also known as chemosurgery, Mohs surgery involves the surgical removal of both the visible tumor and small chunks of surrounding tissue. The operating skin cancer surgeon will repeat the removal process until a layer of cancer-free tissue is discovered. Impressively, the Skin Cancer Foundation estimates the cure rate of Mohs surgery to be as high as 98 percent.
While not as widely popular as it once was, cryosurgery is a modestly effective treatment option that requires neither surgery nor anesthesia. Using liquid nitrogen, a physician will freeze tumor tissue and destroy it. After scabbing, the tumor tissue will typically fall off in a few weeks. Despite a lower cure rate than surgical techniques, cryosurgery is useful in treating patients with bleeding disorders or intolerance to anesthesia.
Curettage and Desiccation
After applying local anesthesia to the site of the cancerous growth, the treating physician will use a sharp instrument called a curette to remove the tumorous tissue. An electrocautery needle is simultaneously used to control bleeding and to destroy any lingering parts of the tumor. While this skin cancer treatment is not ideal for aggressive cancers, it has otherwise been shown to produce cure rates in line with surgical removal.
Used to treat superficial Basal Cell Carcinomas, 5-fluorouracil and Imiquimod are topical ointments approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Rubbed directly into the tumor multiple times over an extended period of time, this non-invasive treatment has shown cure rates between 80 and 90 percent. Testing is currently underway to determine the creams’ effectiveness in treating Squamous Cell Carcinomas.
Another non-surgical treatment option, radiation therapy uses directed X-rays to destroy the tumor over the course of several visits. With cure rates around 90 percent, the option is often used when treating elderly patients or patients with tumors that are surgically challenging.