After identification and diagnosis of skin cancer, the next step is treatment. Possible treatments include skin cancer surgery, radiation, targeted local therapies, and even chemotherapy. The type of treatment that is appropriate depends on the type of cancer, its size, and its location. However, practically all simple skin cancers are treated with surgical removal. Methods of performing surgical removal include:
Excision – using a scalpel to cut out the lesion
Curettage and electrodesiccation – using special instruments to remove superficial lesions
Mohs surgery – microscopic surgery that removes one layer of skin at a time to conserve as much healthy skin as possible
Of course, most people are concerned about the possibility of scarring, particularly because skin cancers tend to occur in very visible locations. Both surgical excision and curettage techniques tend to leave a scar that is about an inch long. Mohs surgery is less likely to leave a visible scar and is often used to remove cancers from the face for this very reason.
In Mohs surgery, each layer of skin is removed and examined under a microscope for cancer cells. As soon as all of the cancer has been removed, the surgeon stops removing tissue. If scarring is a significant concern due to the location of the cancer, a plastic surgeon can step in after the dermatologist has removed the cancer and close the wound in such a way that visible scarring is minimized.