Skin Cancer Treatment

Advanced Teamwork and the Latest Technology

Surgery

The most common treatment for skin cancer is surgery. For basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas and for melanomas in early stages, this will probably be performed in the doctor’s office. The doctor will numb your skin and remove the cancer while you are awake.

Cryosurgery and electrosurgery also are used. They are performed on basal and squamous cell skin cancers in the early stages. Cryosurgery uses extreme cold produced by liquid nitrogen to destroy abnormal tissue. Electrosurgery or eloctrocautery uses high-frequency electric current to burn and cut tissue.

The University of Kansas Cancer Center also offers an advanced technique called Mohs micrographic surgery. It is used for nonmelanoma skin cancer. In Mohs surgery, the surgeon removes a thin layer of tissue and examines it under a microscope to detect cancer. The surgeon does this over and over until no cancer is found. In this way, the tumor is removed with the smallest amount of tissue loss. This is important when the skin cancer is on the face, nose or ear.

Interventional radiology

We also offer advanced interventional radiology treatments for melanoma, such as Y-90 radioembolization for melanoma that has metastasized to the liver. IR uses a catheter, a small flexible tube inserted in an artery, usually in the thigh, to provide minimally invasive therapies such as microwave ablation tissue removal. Advanced imaging, including X-ray, CT-MRI and ultrasound, help interventional radiologists guide the catheter to the affected area of the body.

Medications

Medications in the form of ointment or salve are sometimes used for non-melanoma skin cancers. They also are used for precancerous conditions such as actinic keratosis. They include fluorouracil (5-FU) and Imiquimod cream. Fluorouracil is an anticancer medication that slow or stops the growth of abnormal cells on the skin. Imiquimod is thought to produce substances that attack abnormal cells, viruses and cancerous cells. These medications include special instructions to avoid irritation to healthy skin.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses medicines to destroy cancer cells. You will receive it through your veins. Chemotherapy is not used for basal or squamous cell skin cancer. It may be used to treat melanoma, especially if it has spread to other organs.

Biological Therapy

Biological therapy uses materials formed by the body but produced in a lab. These materials boost your body’s natural defenses. One such chemical is Interferon and Interleukin-2, which are given by injection or through the vein. They help your body’s immune system destroy the melanoma. The most common side effect is severe tiredness or fatigue.

Another biological therapy is Tretinoin (Retin-A), which comes from vitamin A. It may prevent new skin cancers.

Clinical Trials

Sometimes people with skin cancer take part in clinical trials. Clinical trials are research projects to test medicines and treatments.


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