Types of Treatments
- Surgical Excision
- Electrodesiccation & Curettage
- Mohs Surgery
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Topical Chemotherapy
- Immune Response Modifiers
- Radiation Therapy
Skin Cancer Treatments
Skin cancer can be easily treated with it’s diagnosed early. If Dr. Ness diagnoses a cancerous area during a screening at our Fargo office, then it’s important to know your treatment options. We offer a selection of surgical and non-surgical treatments which can be customized to fit your unique anatomy and preferences.
Skin cancer happens when certain skin cells begin to reproduce abnormally and create a growth or lesion on the surface of the skin. This happens when UV rays damage the skin over time and cause mutations in the DNA of the cells. If untreated, the cancer can spread to other areas of the body and cause serious health concerns. Fortunately, skin cancer can be easily detected with regular at-home screenings or professional screenings by Dr. Ness.
As we learn more about skin cancer and how to treat it, more treatment options become available. At Fargo Dermatology, we offer the latest and most effective methods to treat skin cancer in its early stages with a selection of methods that fit you best.
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Surgical techniques performed by a surgical dermatologist can be some of the most effective and immediate treatment options. These include:
This can be performed using a local anesthetic in our office. This straightforward procedure means that the cancerous area is cut out with fine surgical blade. Once removed, the skin is stitched together with a few layers of sutures to ensure that the wound closes properly. This method usually leaves visible scarring.
This method uses local anesthetic and a special instrument called a curette, or a long instrument with a sharpened loop at the end. This instrument can scrape away the skin to remove the tumor. The area is then treated with an electrode to destroy any cancerous cells that might remain. This process might be repeated a few times to make sure the entire area is effectively treated. This option can leave scarring.
There are plenty of reasons to prefer non-surgical options when it comes to treatment. Fortunately, non-surgical options are becoming more and more effective. These include:
Sometimes called cryosurgery, this treatment can be effective on pre-cancerous skin or small carcinomas. This method includes using liquid nitrogen (which is extremely cold) to freeze and destroy the cancerous or pre-cancerous cells. After treatment, the skin will blister, swell, and crust. It can take a few weeks or longer to heal, and may leave a hypopigmented scar. This technique should only ever be performed by a board certified dermatologist.
Mohs surgery is a good option when it’s likely that the cancer will return after treatment. Mohs surgery is performed using a microscope to analyze each layer of skin that is removed to check for cancerous cells. Often, it provides the benefits of less scarring and more thorough treatment.
Photodynamic therapy, or PDT, is a laser light treatment that uses a photosensitizing agent on the skin to allow the light energy to damage cancerous cells. Learn more about PDT here. [link]
Topical chemotherapy uses certain topical medications to kill cancer cells over time. Medications like 5 fluorouracil (5-FU) are put on the affected skin once or twice a day for several weeks to kill the tumor. It’s most effective for pre-cancerous conditions. There are many other medications that can be used, so Dr. Ness can prescribe the right one for you.
This type of treatment uses a medicated cream that is applied to the lesion or growth. This medication, called Imiquimod, causes the body to attack the growth and destroy it. This occurs over the course of several weeks with daily use.
This option uses high-frequency rays or particles to kill cancer cells. It’s often most effective when combined with other treatment options like at-home medications. It can also be used after surgical removal to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Dr. Ness will ensure that you have instructions to follow before, during, and after your treatment or treatment plan. The most important part of skin cancer treatment is making sure that the skin cancer doesn’t come back, meaning you’ll need to be vigilant and have regular screenings for more growths or lesions. Additionally, practicing good sun protection is the most effective way to prevent further UV damage.
Receiving a skin cancer diagnosis can seem overwhelming, but it’s important to keep in mind that you’ve got options. Dr. Ness can recommend the right treatments for you and ensure your skin stays healthy and cancer-free in the future. To get started or schedule a professional screening, contact our Fargo office by calling or filling out our online form.