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Skin Cancer Treatments

Published May 23, 2015

Skin cancer treatment begins with a diagnosis. Most skin lesions are confirmed with a skin biopsy where a small portion of the affected area is removed and tested to determine whether or not the cells are cancerous. Treatment options are then determined by the type of skin cancer, location, stage of cancer, and patient’s overall health.
 
Surgical treatment of cancer lesions can be performed when skin cancer lesions are removed entirely and the cancerous tissues have not spread or metastasized to other parts of the body. If your doctor determines surgery is the best treatment option here are the possible choices:
 
Excision procedure: performed by a surgically trained doctor and skin lesion is removed with a scalpel or blade entirely, leaving only normal skin.
 
Mohs surgery: a surgical procedure performed where the cancerous lesion is removed in layers or in shaving. The removed tissue is examined layer by layer and the procedure is continued until normal healthy tissue is observed
 
Surgical treatment is not an option for everyone. Some types of cancer cannot be removed surgically because they are too large, or have spread throughout the body. 

Other treatments for skin cancer are:
 
Chemotherapy: Involves the patient taking medication that destroys cancerous and healthy cells.  The medicine may be swallowed, injected or infused through an IV. Chemotherapy is commonly used to treat skin cancers that have spread through the body or for lesions too large that need to be reduced in size for later excision. Patients can unfortunately experience a number of side effects with chemotherapy  
 
Radiation therapy: This procedure involves destroying the cancerous lesion with repeated exposure to radiation. It is used in certain skin cancers and in older patients. Radiation therapy works well in cancer lesions that are difficult to remove; however, patients with radiation exposure have a risk of developing new cancer lesions.
 
Laser therapy: Treatment of skin cancer with laser therapy vaporizes or ablates the skin’s top layer destroying the cancerous lesions. This procedure is performed for superficial lesions. Laser therapy is not  FDA-approved but found to be successful for specific cancers.
 
Topical Medications: For certain skin cancers there are gels, ointments, and solutions that can be utilized for treatment. The major drawback with non surgical approaches is there is no definitive way to know how much of the cancer actually has been removed.
 
Skin cancer is a serious condition and should only be treated by professional. The earlier the treatment is started and the skin cancer has been identified, the better the results. If you are worried about a suspicious lesion of the foot or ankle please make an appointment today.
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