Getting Your Moles Checked Out

Four Skin Cancer Treatment Options

by Javier Bell

Skin cancer, particularly melanomas, can be deadly. However, if it is caught earlier enough, the outlook can be phenomenal. Here is a look at the different treatment options available.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Often used for squamous cell cancer, which occurs in the epidermis, or outer cell layer of the skin, Mohs micrographic surgery is less invasive than typical surgery. The surgeon removes what he or she feels is the bare minimum. The patient then waits while the sample is examined under the microscope.

It is checked to see if there are any cancerous cells on the margins surrounding the growth. If there are still cancer cells present on the edges, the surgeon goes back and removes a little bit more. It is then checked again. If the margins are clear, the procedure is over. If the margins still contain cancerous cells, the procedure is repeated until none are present.

This procedure is often done on areas that have very little tissue around them, such as the eyes, nose, or lips. By removing as little as possible, visible deformities can be avoided.

Excision Surgery

Traditional surgery where the entire growth and surrounding healthy tissue is another treatment option. This method may remove more, but it also provides a safety margin which will hopefully prevent any abnormal cells from coming back in the future. The excised piece is also sent to the laboratory to make sure the margins are free of any cancerous cells, but the patient is stitched up and sent on their way rather than waiting for the laboratory results.


If the tumor is quite small, it can be scraped off and then the tissue cauterized, or burned. The cauterization both kills the cancerous cells and seals up the wound and stops the bleeding. This procedure will be repeated a few times over the course of a set period of time to make sure it is gone. This only works for very small cancerous tumors that have been determined to be slow growing rather than aggressive. Electrosurgery also cannot be performed on sensitive areas like the eyes, nose, mouth, face, or genitals. The area will be scarred, and like burns, will no longer have any pigmentation.


Repeated radiation sessions over the course of a month is another treatment method, but it isn't a preferred method as it can have its own set of side effects. It is a good option, however, for elderly patients who are not good candidates for surgery. 

To learn more about these treatment options, contact offices like Gateway Dermatology PC.