Skin Cancer Treatment (Nonmelanoma)
Nonmelanoma skin cancer treatment is determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on many factors, such as the type and stage of the cancer, the size and location of the tumor and the patient’s medical history and overall health. At Moffitt Cancer Center, every case is reviewed by our multispecialty team of skin cancer experts. Through this process, an individualized treatment plan is developed, consisting of personalized solutions that are chosen with the patient’s specific needs and preferences in mind. Surgery is the most common form of skin cancer treatment, mainly because the goal is to remove the cancer entirely. This can sometimes be accomplished with an initial biopsy; however, sometimes further treatment is necessary. Moffitt offers the latest surgical treatment options, which include:
- Mohs micrographic surgery – Thin layers of the tumor are cut away one at a time and examined under a microscopic. The surgeon continues to remove layers of skin until no more cancer cells are found. This type of treatment is often used for skin cancer in delicate areas, such as the face. Mohs surgery is offered in conjunction with the USF Department of Dermatology.
- Shave excision – The growth is shaved off the surface of the skin using a sharp, thin razor.
- Simple excision – The tumor is removed with a scalpel, along with some of the surrounding tissue.
- Cryosurgery (also called cryotherapy) – A pen-like instrument is used to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue.
- Electrodesiccation and curettage – Using a sharp, spoon-shaped tool called a curette, the tumor is removed from the skin. A needle-shaped electrode is then used to treat the skin with an electric current that stops any bleeding and kills any remaining cancer cells.
- Dermabrasion – The top layer of skin is removed using a rotating wheel or small particles that rub the skin cells away.
Some cases of skin cancer may call for additional treatment such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is typically reserved for tumors that are difficult to address with surgery. Chemotherapy for skin cancer is often topical in the form of a cream or lotion. However, the method of delivery for chemotherapy is determined on each individual case. More aggressive forms of chemotherapy may be used for skin cancer that has metastasized, or spread, to other areas of the body.