Skin cancer is all too common among adults of any age. Years of repeated sun exposure, insufficient sunscreen use, and tanning bed use can all lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. While skin cancer used to be a devastating diagnosis, skin cancer treatments have come a long way in the past few decades. Now, oncologists use a wide variety of treatments to remove tumors, treat metastasized cancer, and prevent tumor regrowth. Oncologists choose treatment options based on skin cancer type, tumor size, and many other variables. This article covers three of the most common treatment options in use today.
One of the most common ways to treat skin cancer is surgery. Doctors remove as much of the cancer as possible through two main forms of surgery: excisional surgery and Mohs surgery. Excisional surgery is commonly used to remove tumors in areas that can withstand having some extra skin cut away. This form of surgery is relatively simple. Doctors cut away cancerous cells and tumors with a wide margin of healthy cells. In areas that excisional therapy is too aggressive to treat, like the delicate skin on the face, doctors use Mohs surgery instead. During this operation, the cancerous skin tissue is removed layer by layer and examined under the microscope. When doctors can't find any cancerous cells, the surgery is over.
Radiation therapy is a useful treatment option for skin cancer, and doctors frequently use it to supplement surgical treatments. During any surgical treatment, doctors acknowledge the risk that they have left behind a few cancerous cells. These cells would eventually become full tumors. In order to prevent tumor regrowth, doctors use radiation therapy to destroy cancerous cells around the surgical site. Radiation therapy for skin cancer is generally completely external — patients don't have to swallow radioactive objects or have radioactive compounds injected under the skin.
If skin cancer is caught relatively late, it could metastasize or spread around the body. If this is the case, then systemic treatments are used to supplement treatments like excisional surgery. Chemotherapy is a common systemic cancer treatment, and for skin cancer, doctors use chemotherapy creams to target the areas most affected by the cancer. Although these creams target the skin specifically, the cancer-killing agents in them are also absorbed into the body, where they can fight back against cancerous cells that have spread beyond the skin.
To learn more about skin cancer treatments, contact an oncologist in your area.Share