Four skin cancer treatment options and how to know which is right for you

woman talking with doctor about skin cancer treatment options

Four skin cancer treatment options and how to know which is right for you

Once you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, you immediately start searching for your best treatment options. During this time, it’s crucial to obtain accurate, reliable information in order to have an educated discussion with your doctor to determine the next best step in treating and curing your cancer. 

Some skin cancer treatment options  

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma, you may have more than one option when it comes to treatment. Depending on various factors that you’ll want to discuss with your doctor, you’ll be able to select the treatment that’s going to give you the best possible outcome. 

Here’s a look at some of the most common skin cancer treatment options.

#1 Topical creams. Topic creams, such as Aldara, are your main nonsurgical option. These work by stimulating your body’s own immune system to fight off the skin cancer and typically require six weeks of application for five days a week. 

Keep in mind, while this is an option for low-risk basal cell carcinoma, Aldara is not FDA-approved for squamous cell skin cancer.  

Topical creams offer an 80% cure rate for basal cell skin cancer.

 

#2 Electrodesiccation and curettage (ECD). During ECD, your dermatologist will scrape out the cancer with a sharp instrument called a curette before using electrocoagulation to burn the base where the cancer was located.

This procedure is commonly used for the treatment of basal and squamous cell skin cancers. 

Electrodesiccation and curettage offers about a 95% cure rate for basal cell carcinoma. 

 

#3 Surgical excision. With surgical excision, the cancer is simply cut out with a surgical knife and the resulting wound is either stitched up or left to heal on its own. 

While this procedure is used to treat basal and squamous cell carcinoma, it’s also typically the standard care for early-stage melanoma. If the melanoma is in advanced stages, sampling of lymph nodes is also recommended to find out if the melanoma has spread. 

Surgical excision offers a cure rate of about 95% for basal cell carcinoma.

 

#4 Mohs surgery. During Mohs surgery, the cancer is removed layer by layer and checked microscopically while the patient is in the office to make sure all of the root and cancer cells have been removed. 

This is a great option for basal and squamous cell skin cancers though only about 20% of Mohs surgeons will perform Mohs for melanoma since it can be difficult to interpret the melanoma with the Mohs technique. 

Mohs gives us a cure rate of 99% for basal cell cancers that haven’t been treated before, 94.4% for basal cell cancers that are recurrent, and a 94% cure rate for squamous cell cancers.  

 

Factors to determine the best skin cancer treatment option for YOU

Even with the range of treatment options, not all are going to be an option for you. You and your doctor must look at various factors in order to determine which is going to give you the best outcome. 

Here are some things you and your doctor will want to consider:

  • The microscopic pattern. The right treatment will greatly depend on the microscopic pattern of the cancer. Is it a fairly nonaggressive pattern or does it have a lot of roots? If it has a lot of roots, you’ll want to be more aggressive in treating it. 
  • Where it is on the body. For skin cancers on the head and neck, we tend to lean towards Mohs surgery because these are cosmetically sensitive areas, and the Mohs technique also allows us to spare all the healthy cells while making sure all the cancer cells are out. 
  • The size of the skin cancer. The size of the skin cancer will also help your doctor determine the optimal treatment. For larger cancers, you might think about one of the more aggressive treatments as opposed to ECD or topical creams.
  • Patient factors. Are you experiencing any other health issues? Which treatments can you tolerate? Mohs requires a lot of time at the office, and some patients can be there for hours so it’s not the best option for someone who’s really elderly or has other health concerns.


With all the technology and knowledge we have available today, the chances of curing your skin cancer with one of the treatment options above are extremely high. And now that you know what options are out there, you’re ready to have a serious and thorough conversation with your doctor and select the best treatment for you.

 

Contact Center of Surgical Dermatology for skin cancer treatment options in Westerville, OH
Center of Surgical Dermatology is the largest medical and surgical skin treatment and wellness facility in Central Ohio. Since 2007, our board-certified Dermatologists, fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons, and caring professional staff have provided patients with the treatment they can trust in an environment second to none. Learn more about our state-of-the-art Dermatology Center before booking your appointment today.

 

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