When a person is diagnosed with skin cancer, one of the most common treatments is having it surgically removed. There are different surgical procedures used to remove skin cancer and the best one for each patient is determined by a few different factors. These factors include the type and stage of the skin cancer, the size of the area that is affected and the location of the cancerous skin. These are some different surgical procedures that are commonly used to remove skin cancer.
Excisional Skin Surgery
Excisional skin surgery can be performed on any type of skin cancer. First the skin is numbed and then the skin cancer is removed with a scalpel. A border around the cancerous skin is also cut away so it can be tested to see if the cancer has spread beyond the diameter of the cancerous tumor.
The border of skin is then looked at closely under a microscope to determine if any cancerous cells remain. If not, the incision is stitched and allowed to heal. However, if visible cancer cells can be seen under the microscope, additional skin will need to be surgically removed.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs micrographic surgery is commonly performed on either basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer. This procedure is done by numbing the skin and then shaving layers of skin off the top of the cancerous tumor. As each layer is removed it is examined under a microscope to determine if cancer cells still remain visible.
The shaving of skin layers continues each time cancer cells can be seen. Once a layer is removed that does not contain cancer cells, the procedure is complete. This method removes less healthy skin than excisional skin surgery because the borders around the tumor aren't necessarily removed.
Electrodesiccation and Curettage
Electrodesiccation and curettage is a procedure that is often used on small cancerous tumors, such as small basal cell or small squamous cell skin cancer. This is done by numbing the area and using a special sharp tool known as a curette to slice away the tumor.
Then an electrode shaped like a needle is used to send an electric current into the area to prevent excessive bleeding and kill any remaining cancer cells. This type of skin cancer surgery is usually quick and simple and is normally done as an outpatient procedure.
Cryosurgery is another surgical procedure used to remove skin cancer, but it does not actually involve cutting the cancerous skin away. This method is normally used for those patients who cannot tolerate any of the other forms of skin cancer surgery. This method is done by applying liquid nitrogen to the cancerous tumor so that cancer cells will be frozen and killed. This is also a simple procedure, but may leave the patient with swelling, numbness and nerve damage in the affected area.
If you have any other questions about how skin cancer can be surgically removed, contact a local specialist in skin cancer surgery, such as Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center.