Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer: Comparing Treatments

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Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer: Comparing Treatments

Topic Overview

Most non-melanoma skin cancer can be cured if it is found and treated early. The goal of treatment is to completely remove the cancer. But the method of removal will differ depending on the experience of your health professional and the type of cancer you have.

Advantages and disadvantages of common treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer
Treatment Advantages Disadvantages

Cryosurgery

  • Minimal equipment needed
  • Simple to perform
  • No restriction of activity after surgery
  • Margin around cancer may not be free of cancer
  • Moderately painful
  • Slow healing
  • Potential for scarring
  • No skin tissue for diagnosis

Curettage and electrosurgery

  • Minimal equipment needed
  • Simple to perform
  • No restriction of activity after surgery
  • Margin around cancer may not be free of cancer
  • Slow healing
  • Potential for scarring

Excision

  • Margin around cancer more likely to be free of cancer
  • Tissue available for diagnosis
  • More rapid healing
  • Good cosmetic results
  • Healthy skin tissue around cancer (margin) must be removed
  • Activity restriction after surgery if skin graft or flap is needed

Mohs micrographic surgery

  • Best chance of cancer-free margins
  • Healthy skin tissue is preserved
  • Tissue available for diagnosis
  • Highest cure rates
  • Good cosmetic results
  • Specialized training and facilities needed
  • Takes more time to make sure margins are cancer-free
  • Activity restriction after surgery if skin graft or flap is needed

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Randall D. Burr, MD - Dermatology
Last Revised December 2, 2010

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