Common Skin Cancer Types and Treatments

There are several types of skin cancer that effect 1 in 5 Americans every year. The most common type is called basal cell carcinoma. This is a slow-growing cancer that manifests as a pimple or growth. typically on the face, that does not go away. It is fortunate that this cancer remains localized, but it will not be resolved until it is treated.

Aggressive Cancer

On the other end of the spectrum is the dangerous type of skin cancer known as melanoma. It spreads quickly and can be lethal if not diagnosed early. People with a family history of melanoma, those exposed to x-rays, certain chemicals, coal, and asbestos, and fair-complexion tobacco users will want to schedule annual appointments with board-certified dermatologists. Not only can these professionals diagnose and treat cancers, they can educate patients about monthly self-examinations to assist with early detection.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Most skin cancers are visible so they are noticed as soon as they appear in many cases. When in the pre-cancerous stages, the first treatments tried are non-surgical ones. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the spot or growth, which kills the cancer cells. Topical steroid solutions are another option for some patients. Photodynamic therapy, also known as light therapy, is often successful in drying up the spot and killing pre-cancerous cells. For more details regarding these treatment procedures go to

Surgical Treatments

When non-surgical treatments fail, or the cancer is an aggressive type, surgical treatments become viable options. There are three basic surgical procedures for the treatment of skin cancers. One is called Electrodesiccation and Curettage, which is more commonly referred to as "scrape and burn". This two step surgery consists of a scraping out malignant cells with a special tool. That is immediately followed by burning the surrounding areas with an electrical needle.

Excision is a similar surgery, except the malignant cells are removed rather than scraped out. The cells in the immediate area are also removed. This surgery is completed in one step and is used to treat large areas of the skin effected by cancer.

MOHS Surgery

This technique has the highest cure rates of all other cancer treatments. The skin cancer is completely removed. There are no malignant cells left behind to manifest themselves in the future. It is more invasive than the other two surgeries, but it is often employed with cancers in advanced stages, or those that spread quickly. The history of this type of surgery, performed since the 1930's, is available at