Skin Cancer Treatment and Support

While skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer in the U.S., it is also one of the most treatable.

How Is Skin Cancer Treated?

There are many effective procedures to treat skin cancer. Most often, treatment can be performed on an outpatient basis. Many times, basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are treated non-surgically with light-based or laser treatments, cryosurgery or with topical creams. Radiation and surgery are also considerations for these types of cancers. In its early stages, melanoma should be treated with excision alone.  Your doctor at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center may also consider evaluating the lymph nodes. If a melanoma cancer has spread to other parts of the body, more extensive treatments may be necessary. 

Types of procedures include: 

  • Cryosurgery: Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and destroy the cancerous growth. 
  • Mohs surgery: Removal of the cancer layer by layer until no cancer cells are found.
  • Radiotherapy: Brief exposure to low-energy radiation over multiple sessions.
  • Curettage: Removal of the skin cancer using a sharp, looped tool called a curette and an electrocautery needle to control bleeding.
  • Light-based/photodynamic therapy: An intense light is used on an area after it has been soaked with a photosensitizing solution.
  • Laser treatment: A laser is used to remove the affected tissue.
  • Surgery: Bigger tumors usually require surgical excision to ensure the entire tumor has been removed.

What Are the Side Effects of Skin Cancer Treatment?

For the most part, side effects of skin cancer treatment are minimal. Side effects will vary based on the type of treatment you receive but may include:

  • Soreness or swelling
  • Redness 
  • Scarring

More extensive treatment methods for melanoma may lead to more serious side effects.

You doctor will determine which type of treatment option is best for you based on your type of skin cancer and any other health care needs. If you have any questions about skin cancer treatment options or possible side effects, the experts at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center are here to help.

Resources and Support for Skin Cancer Patients

Making sure you’re physically comfortable, free from pain and emotionally supported is extremely important to all of us at Banner MD Anderson. Be open with us about your feelings, preferences and concerns. We’re here to help.

Get more information on Banner MD Anderson’s support services with our Integrative Oncology program.