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Skin Cancer Treatments

Skin cancer treatments in Buckingham, PA

Certain types of skin cancer grow slowly and spread locally, while others grow quickly and spread to lymph nodes and other organs. In every case, it is essential that all cancer cells be removed. Treatment options vary based on the type of skin cancer, the size, location and depth of the tumor, as well as, age and health of the patient. The majority of skin cancer treatments can be performed in the office or outpatient facility under local anesthesia.

Diagnosis and staging

Diagnosis of the type of cancer and its stage requires pathological examination of the tumor tissue either from a biopsy of the tumor, and/or after the tumor has been removed. Staging is the determination of the thickness and characteristics of the tumor, and whether it has spread locally, to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Depending on the stage, a lymph node biopsy may be recommended. An imaging scan will reveal if the cancer has spread to other organs. The stage of the cancer determines the prognosis (chance of recovery) and the treatment options.

Surgical options:

  • Localized treatments are generally reserved for low-risk superficial tumors and include: cryosurgery, topical therapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT), and electrosurgery
  • Wide local excision involves cutting out the tumor along with extra margins of normal skin. If wide margin excision can cause disfigurement or loss of anatomical function, Mohs micrographic surgery will be recommended.
  • Mohs micrographic surgery (Mohs or Mohs surgery) involves removing the tumor in stages or layers. Each layer is mapped and examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells. The procedure is repeated until no more cancer cells are seen. While Mohs surgery can take hours, the result is the preservation of as much healthy skin as possible and a hidden scar. Mohs surgery requires specialized training. It is recommended when wide local excision can cause disfiguration, when tumors are on certain locations such as, the face, eyes, lips, nose and genitals, and when it is difficult to determine the extent of the cancer.
  • Metastatic skin cancer can’t be treated with local therapy. Options include targeted therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and clinical trials.
  • The primary skin cancer is surgically excised.
  • Radiation and chemotherapy are adjuvant treatments used to kill remaining cancer cells after surgery or in other metastatic locations.
  • Immunotherapy may be recommended to boost the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer.
  • Drug therapy is targeted therapy to attack the cancer cells without causing harm to normal cells.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) treatments

When BCC is localized (has not metastasized/spread) treatment options include simple excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, radiation therapy, electrosurgery, photodynamic therapy, topical chemotherapy or immunotherapy. However, simple excision can cause significant scarring and possibly loss of function. Therefore, when BCC is found in a location where excision would cause disfigurement, Mohs surgery will be recommended to spare healthy tissue, reduce scarring and preserve function.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) treatments

Localized SCC can be treated with simple excision, Mohs, radiation therapy, and electrotherapy. SCC in situ in certain circumstances may be treated with photodynamic therapy. When SCC spreads beyond the localized tumor treatment options also include chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

Metastatic melanoma treatments

Melanoma in situ, which is confined to the most superficial layer of skin and has not spread, is treated with surgery.

Depending on the stage of melanoma, discussed in the Skin Cancer Types section, treatment may include surgical excision, lymph node removal, immunotherapy, chemotherapy and/or radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells and lower the risk of recurrence.

When you are diagnosed with skin cancer, Dr. Rachel White will explain to you all your treatment options based on your needs. As you can see there are multiple options and Dr. White will create a personalized plan to treat you with the goal of cancer-free.

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