There are many treatment methods for skin cancer patients to consider, including surgical and surgery-free options. Depending on the severity of the case and whether it is melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer, the viable options for any one patient may be more or less restricted. In the space below, we will provide a broad overview of the treatments that patients may discuss with their doctors. For more detailed information, please call the GentleCure skin cancer information specialists at 312-987-6543.
Melanoma Skin Cancer Treatment Methods
Melanoma is the most aggressive type of skin cancer and can be fatal if left untreated. Treatment methods for melanoma include:
- Surgery: Surgical removal, or excision, is the most common treatment method for melanoma. After numbing the area, your doctor will remove the cancerous lesion, along with a margin of the surrounding healthy tissue. The scope of the excision depends on the size of the melanoma.
- Radiation Therapy: If the melanoma has spread to a patient’s lymph nodes, surgery may not be an option, and radiation therapy may be suggested. Radiation therapy has been compared to having a high-energy x-ray performed.
- Immunotherapy: This treatment method uses medicines to stimulate a patient’s immune system to better recognize and destroy cancer cells. There are several types of immunotherapy available, which a patient’s doctor will discuss with them if it is determined to be a viable treatment method.
- Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy drugs aim to stop the growth of cancer cells by targeting the genes or proteins of melanoma cells that are abnormal.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is used less often for melanoma than immunotherapy or targeted therapy. Chemotherapy drugs are either injected in a patient’s vein or taken orally as a pill. From there, the drugs travel through the bloodstream, destroying any cancer cells that have spread beyond the skin.
Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Treatment Methods
Non-melanoma skin cancers like basal and squamous cell skin cancers are significantly less aggressive and more treatable than melanoma. When treated early-on, the outlook for non-melanoma skin cancer is very good. Treatment methods include:
- Simple Excision: Minor non-melanoma skin cancers can be removed with a simple excision. Your doctor will numb the area before removing the cancerous blemish and a margin of surrounding tissue.
- Mohs: In more serious cases of non-melanoma skin cancer, Mohs surgery may be recommended. Rather than removing the lesion all at once like a simple excision, Mohs surgery entails removing the lesion layer-by-layer. Each layer is examined for cancer cells, and the process is repeated until no more cancer cells are found.
- Electrodesiccation and Curettage: The top layers of skin are scraped away from the cancerous lesion using a curette. Then, an electric current is used to apply heat to the surface of the wound, helping to prevent bleeding and destroy any remaining cancer cells.
- Superficial Radiotherapy (SRT): SRT is a non-surgical skin cancer treatment method that targets and destroys cancer cells with a measured dose of low-level radiation delivered just below the skin’s surface. Some practices also offer Image-Guided Superficial Radiotherapy (Image-Guided SRT), which combines SRT with ultrasound imaging, allowing the practitioner to target the cancer cells with greater accuracy. Compared to methods like simple excision and Mohs, radiotherapy is significantly less invasive.
Talk to a Skin Cancer Information Specialist Today
If you would like one-on-one guidance as you consider all of your options for skin cancer treatment, please call the GentleCure skin cancer information specialists at 312-987-6543. Basal and squamous cell skin cancer patients who would like to know more about how Image-Guided SRT works can discuss this treatment in greater detail with us. Or, you can find a practice near you that is offering Image-Guided SRT.