You might need skin cancer surgery if Dr. Adams diagnoses a malignant (cancerous) growth on your skin. In some cases, it’s possible to treat precancerous lesions using non-surgical approaches, which include burning or freezing with liquid nitrogen, medium-depth chemical peels, and photodynamic therapy.
If your cancer is too advanced to treat successfully with these methods, Dr. Adams might recommend skin cancer surgery. Surgically removing all the cancerous tissue is one of the most effective ways of preventing skin cancer from returning.
The conditions most likely to require skin cancer surgery are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas and melanomas.
Melanomas affect the melanocyte cells in the deeper layers of your skin. Melanocytes generate melanin, a pigment that colors your skin. Melanomas may develop if the melanocytes absorb too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds.
The basal cells are in the deepest layer of your skin. Cancer in these cells is the most common type — around three-quarters of non-melanoma skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas.
Squamous cell carcinomas, which develop in the keratinocyte cells, grow faster than basal cell carcinomas. Only about 20% of skin cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
There are various surgical options for skin cancer. The one Dr. Adams uses depends on the type, size, and location of your cancer. Options include:
Excision is a straightforward form of skin cancer surgery. Dr. Adams numbs your skin with a local anesthetic and excises (cuts) the cancerous tissue. He also takes a little of the skin surrounding the lesion to ensure he removes all the cancer cells. Although it’s a simple procedure, excision leaves a scar.
To perform curettage and electrodesiccation, Dr. Adams passes a curette (a long, slender instrument with a sharp looped edge) over the lesion to slice it off. He then applies an electrode to your skin to eliminate any remaining cancer cells. This type of skin cancer surgery is best for basal and squamous cell carcinomas. Like excision, it leaves a scar.
Mohs surgery is a specialized procedure where Dr. Adams slices off extremely thin layers of cancerous tissue. He examines each one under a microscope to check for cancer cells before removing another layer. Mohs surgery is more time-consuming and complex than other skin cancer surgery options, but it causes less scarring.
If you have a cancerous lesion, prompt skin cancer surgery could completely resolve the problem. Find out how by calling Twelve Bridges Dermatology or booking an appointment online today.