Basel Cell Carcinoma
Surgery is the most common and effective treatment for skin cancer and several types of surgery are available. The surgical procedure recommended depends on the size and location of the growth, along with other factors.
There are several types of surgery used to treat non-melanoma skin cancers. Surgical excision is a common treatment that removes the growth with a scalpel. A border of skin around the growth is also taken. This tissue is called the margin, which is examined under a microscope to be sure all the cancer cells have been removed. The size of the margin excised depends on the extent of the growth and type of cancer.
Electrodesiccation and curettage is often utilized to remove small skin cancers with a looped instrument called a curette. After the growth is removed, an electric current is delivered to the area to control bleeding and destroy any residual cancer cells. This is usually a fast and simple procedure.
Another type of surgery is referred to as cryosurgery. During the procedure, liquid nitrogen is applied directly onto the skin, freezing and destroying cancer cells. Cryosurgery can be used for a variety of benign or noncancerous conditions, as well as for many types of skin cancer. In some cases, cryosurgery is the primary therapy and completely removes the skin cancer. In other cases, it’s used in combination with additional therapies to treat the skin cancer. Cryosurgery can be valuable in particularly complex cases, such as for patients with a tumor in a difficult location, bleeding conditions, or for those with intolerance to anesthesia.
Mohs surgery, also called Mohs micrographic surgery, is a procedure that removes small margins of tissue around the cancer in layers. Each layer is then examined under a microscope. Layers continue to be removed until cancer cells are no longer visible. With this method, all the cancer and only a small bit of healthy tissue are removed. This procedure is used primarily for skin cancers that have a higher risk of recurrence.
A skin graft may be needed after surgery if the skin cancer removed was large or the affected area does not heal properly. During the graft, an area on another part of the body, such as the upper thigh, chest, or neck is numbed and a patch of healthy skin removed. The patch is then placed on the area where the growth was removed. The graft may need special care until it heals. After any type of surgery, including skin grafts, it is important to follow your provider’s discharge and homecare instructions on bathing, shaving, exercise or other activities.