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Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer: Comparing Treatments

Topic Overview

Most nonmelanoma skin cancer can be cured if it is found and treated early. The goal of treatment is to completely remove the cancer. But the method of removal will differ depending on the experience of your doctor and the type of cancer you have.

Advantages and disadvantages of common treatments for nonmelanoma skin cancer
Treatment Advantages Disadvantages

Cryosurgery

  • Minimal equipment needed
  • Simple to perform
  • Cost-effective
  • No restriction of activity after surgery
  • Margin around cancer may not be free of cancer
  • Moderately painful
  • Slow healing
  • Potential for scarring
  • No skin tissue for diagnosis

Curettage and electrosurgery

  • Minimal equipment needed
  • Simple to perform
  • Cost-effective
  • No restriction of activity after surgery
  • Margin around cancer may not be free of cancer
  • Slow healing
  • Potential for scarring

Excision

  • Margin around cancer more likely to be free of cancer
  • Tissue available for diagnosis
  • More rapid healing
  • Good cosmetic results
  • Healthy skin tissue around cancer (margin) must be removed
  • Activity restriction after surgery if skin graft or flap is needed

Mohs micrographic surgery

  • Best chance of margins free of cancer
  • Healthy skin tissue is preserved
  • Tissue available for diagnosis
  • Highest cure rates
  • Good cosmetic results
  • Specialized training and facilities needed
  • Increased cost
  • Takes more time to make sure margins are free of cancer
  • Activity restriction after surgery if skin graft or flap is needed

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
Last Revised October 2, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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