Skin cancer treatment

You have many treatment options if you are ever diagnosed with any type of skin cancer. Therefore hearing the words, “you have basal cell carcinoma on your hands,” is no longer the death sentence it used to be. Work with your dermatologist and oncologist to determine the best treatment plan for you. The best treatment plan for you will largely be based on the location, nature, and the size of the tumour or cancerous cells (among other things.) Your overall physical health and condition will be a huge deciding factor because you may not respond well to some cancer therapies if your health condition has deteriorated substantially. In fact, these types of skin cancer therapies may be deadly in this instance.

Your doctors may prescribe one or a combination of the following for skin cancer therapies:

● Topical medicines

● Using electrodes and curettage to burn the tumours to death

● Removal by surgery

● Mohs microscopic surgery

● Radiation therapy

● Cryosurgery

● Photodynamic therapy

● Laser surgery

● Oral medicines

Topical medicines

Fluorouracil is a popular, topical cream which dermatologists will prescribe for you if you have more localized superficial basal cell carcinoma. This is considered to be a ‘last resort treatment’ if conventional treatments have failed or are not possible. Fluorouracil is part of the antimetabolite class of medicines. It is excellent in terms of ensuring that superficial basal cell carcinoma does not spread or metastasize. This is important because these types of cells grow quickly and are aggressive Fluorouracil is very powerful and is effective in terms of killing these cells quickly before they can take root in your skin and surrounding organs/bone tissues.

Using electrodes and curettage to burn the tumours to death

This is a popular therapy which is used to literally burn basal and squamous cell carcinoma cancer cells to death. This is widely used because it is very good at keeping these types of cancer in remission. You will stay healthier and live longer as a result. Since it’s a very simple procedure, it can be done in an outpatient setting, including your doctor’s office. The dermatologist will then use a sharp, spoon-shaped tool to scrape off the top two or three layers of your epidermis (skin.)

Your doctor will burn the skin cancer cells away by using a metal tool or needle which will emit a strong electric current known as an electrode into your cancer spots or tumour areas. The electric shocks to your skin will cauterize blood vessels and keep bleeding to a minimum. If your cancer is like that of most, you’ll need to have the procedure done at least 2-3 times for it to be effective. Areas which lie slightly beyond the cancer spots or tumour areas are also treated to ensure that all stray cancer cells are killed off. Because you’ll end up with a painful and unsightly wound, your doctor will put ointment and a bandage on the area to soothe it, help it heal faster, and prevent infection. The wound will eventually heal into a scab which will eventually fall off.

Your dermatologist will send the dead skin cells to a lab for further analysis. The pathologist will determine what type of cancer you have, the stage it is in, and its severity.

Removal by surgery

This is essentially major skin surgery so you will be knocked out with general anaesthesia. Your surgeon will cut out the tumour or skin spot and surrounding areas to ensure that all of the skin cancerous cells are thus removed. Your wound will be stitched up, and you will be asked to relax for a few weeks to ensure maximum and optimal recovery. The surgeon will send the skin tissue to a dermatopathologist for further analysis. The dermatopathologist will be able to determine the type, nature, stage, and extent of your skin cancer.

Mohs microscopic surgery

You’ll have a surgeon give you local anaesthesia to ensure that you are unconscious and sedated during the entire surgery. The surgeon will then remove your skin spots and tumour areas while including a thin border of healthy skin to ensure that all of cancer has been removed. Any remaining cancer cells can easily be treated by a strong topical ointment, or electrification and curettage. Rest assured that your cancer will stay in complete remission because these surgeons are talented professionals with many years of education and training, which makes them expert in terms of completely removing your skin cancer surgically. 

You will wait while the doctor examines the cancer tissue to determine if all of the cancer cells have been removed. You may be asked to go in for extra minor surgery if some cancer cells remain – this will keep them from spreading or metastasizing. This is the surgery of choice for treating skin cancer if surgery must be used because it is minimally invasive and has short and effective recovery times. It also has high rates of remission. Many doctors use it to remove fast-growing cancer cells or cells which may have spread or metastasized very quickly. 

Mohs surgery is minimally invasive and has low-down times. Recovery time is quick with this surgery. That’s why it can easily be done in an outpatient setting, including your dermatologist’s office. You will likely be sent home within a few hours of the procedure and will stay cancer-free for many months, if not years.

Radiation therapy

Doctors love this therapy in terms of treating various types of skin cancer because it is nonsurgical, non-invasive, and very safe. This makes them able to perform radiation therapy in an outpatient setting, including their own offices. It is great for treating basal and squamous cell carcinoma and other types of non-melanoma skin cancer. 

Radiation therapy takes a while to administer, and this is perfect for slower-growing basal and squamous cell carcinomas. Dermatologists prefer radiation therapy for certain types of skin cancer because it leaves very little facial or body scarring – your skin’s integrity will be maintained. It works great with conventional surgical procedures, including Mohs surgery. If your dermatologist decides to remove your skin cancer surgically, he or she can use radiation therapy to ensure that your skin cancer cells don’t grow back. Radiation therapy is effective in terms of killing developing skin cancer cells. As mentioned earlier, radiation therapy is non-invasive and very safe. This makes it ideal for removing skin cancer in areas which would be hard to operate on or use topical creams on. These include your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.

It has a slightly lower success rate than the near 100% success rate of conventional surgery, but its relatively high success rate makes it very popular in terms of ensuring that skin cancer stays in remission. It is great if you have heart conditions which require you to stay on blood thinners or other powerful medicines which would make conventional therapies including surgery very risky or nonviable. Radiation therapy can be done quickly and with very little pain. Treated areas usually heal within six weeks, with little to no scarring being present. It will look as though your skin cancer miraculously fell and stayed off. You will also be at very little risk of acquiring infections because of radiation therapy. This is why doctors love to give it to very sick or old people.

It may work better than conventional therapies, including surgery if the following apply:

● Skin cancer is widely spread and has very close and thin borders in terms of healthy cells

● Your skin cancer has spread to surrounding nerves or your nervous system – conventional surgery could be very risky and dangerous or even deadly in this instance.

● You have a type of skin cancer that is very aggressive and grows rapidly.

● The doctor may have to affect or remove your lymph nodes to get rid of cancer.

Cryosurgery

When a doctor uses cryosurgery to get rid of certain types of skin cancer, he or she freezes the cancerous spots or tumours with liquid nitrogen. The frozen cells die quickly. The nitrogen can be swabbed or sprayed onto affected areas. Since this is an easy treatment to use, it can be done in an inpatient setting. However, some pain and discomfort are involved. The dermatologist will use local anaesthesia to numb the affected areas. Since skin cancer cells are difficult to treat and heal, the dermatologist usually has to repeat the process at least a few times before all skin cancer cells are killed and before your skin cancer goes into remission. You will usually be given antibiotics to apply to the affected areas to prevent you from developing potentially deadly infections. 

Doctors prefer to use cryosurgery to kill precancerous cells. In a way, this is a preventative measure because it keeps you from developing skin cancer.

Photodynamic therapy

If your dermatologist chooses this type of therapy, he or she will direct special lights towards the areas of your body that are infected by skin cancer. The light will kill these cells. You will also be given special drugs which respond to special light sources. This will help to keep your skin cancer in remission. Your wounds will be dressed, and you’ll be asked to stay away from direct sunlight as much as possible for a few weeks. This will fasten up the process of getting cured and make it more effective. The targeted areas will develop a crusty scar which will eventually fall off.

Laser surgery

You’ll have a beam of concentrated light which will be directed towards your cancerous areas. This will be effective in killing cancer cells. It is also great at preventing you from developing skin cancer by killing precancerous cells. You’ll experience minimal bleeding and scarring with this procedure and have high recovery times. This is why dermatologists love to use this therapy. While many types of laser surgery exist, the most commonly used one is the CO2 laser beam.

Oral medicines

These are effective in terms of killing skin cancer cells from the inside. They are safe and have quick recovery times.

Skin cancer is completely curable

This article has discussed the different types of skin cancer you can get. It has also explained that hearing the words, “You have basal cell carcinoma on your hands,” is not the death sentence as it used to be 30 years ago. If you receive the right screening and treatment plan, you can remain cancer-free for many years. Better still is the fact that proper screening and preventative measures can keep you from developing skin cancer! Indeed, many non-invasive techniques exist which ensures that you will recover quickly and will not suffer from major side effects. In fact, the difference between the skin cancer therapies currently available versus the ones that were available thirty years ago lies in their effectiveness in relation to their relative side effects. They have few side effects but are very effective in terms of only killing your skin cancer cells. This ensures that you can live life to the fullest without having to worry about being constantly weak, sick, or in pain!

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