How We Treat Skin Cancer
Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most prevalent forms of skin cancer, and basal cell carcinoma is the most common tumor worldwide. These types of cancers rarely metastasize to other body regions, but are malignant and continue to grow until treated.
Actinic keratosis is a precancerous lesion that occasionally leads to squamous cell carcinoma development, and is considered premalignant. Our dermatologists at the Calabasas Dermatology Center offer a number of treatments for patients facing a skin cancer diagnosis.
Skin Cancer Treatment Methods
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Electrodessication and Curettage
- Topical Chemotherapy
- Mohs Micrographic Surgery
This method is very effective for most basal cell and squamous cell cancers in less visible and functionally important areas of the body (Mohs Surgery may be preferable for tumors and cancers on the face). After anesthetizing the affected areas, the dermatologist cuts the tumor from the skin along with some of the surrounding tissue. The physician then closes the incision and applies a bandage. Following closure of the wound, Dr. Weitzbuch examines the tissue for cancerous cells in a lab to determine whether further treatment is needed.
Electrodessication and Curettage
The procedure involves removing the tumor using a sharp tool having a sharp spoon-like appearance. The physician then uses a needle-shaped electrode to treat the remaining area with an electrical current, which cauterizes blood vessels and destroys any remaining cancerous cells on the periphery of the wound.
This delivered electric current curtails bleeding as well. This process is repeated for a total of 3 cycles and then the wound is covered with a dressing. Used to treat small skin cancers, such as basal and squamous cell carcinomas, on the body and scalp, this technique is a type of destructive modality in which the skin cancer is removed with a curette, a sharp scraping tool.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
This treatment offers the highest clearance rate to treat skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Mohs surgery is favored when the face needs to be treated because it spares as much skin as possible by ensuring that only cancerous tissue is removed, whereas other techniques may risk losing more healthy tissue in the removal process. Performed under local anesthesia, Mohs surgery involves removing the skin cancer with narrow margins, freezing the tissue, and examining it under a microscope.
The dermatologist continues removing the lesion layer by layer until no cancer cells remain. After examination, Dr. Hal Weitzbuch is able to immediately determine whether additional layers need to be removed. Mohs micrographic surgery is a precise art and spares healthy tissue.
Photodynamic Therapy Using a DUSA System and Levulan
Commonly used for actinic keratosis, this treatment begins with the application of levulan solution to the affected areas. Specifically, photodynamic therapy involves using photosensitizing drugs that are light-activated to identify and destroy superficial skin cancer cells.
After the drug has had time to saturate the cancer cells, light is applied to the area, causing a reaction that kills cancerous cells. After waiting for absorption, the patient sits in front of a specially designed blue light for just over 16 minutes while wearing protective eyewear. The light reacts with the solution and encourages cells to produce reactive oxygen, which destroys the abnormal cells. The solution causes photosensitivity and individuals must protect treated areas from sunlight for 40 hours after application.
Different topical treatments may be utilized to treat and destroy your skin cancer. This is ideal for early, superficial carcinomas.
One of the most commonly used devices in our dermatology office, the Cryostat uses liquid nitrogen to freeze neoplastic (cancerous) cells. This method is performed on actinic keratosis very often, and allows a treatment without cutting any tissue. Lesions may blister and usually heal within 10-14 days. This may be repeated as often as necessary.
The Skin Cancer Treatment That Is Best For You
It’s impossible for any dermatologist to suggest a treatment option without sitting down with you for a consultation.
Each of these skin cancer treatment options can be effective, depending on your specific circumstances. Schedule a consultation today to learn which treatment option is right for you. Our skin cancer experts at the Calabasas Dermatology Center are here to help.