Skin cancer treatment varies by patient and is determined based on factors such as type, stage, size, location, and your overall health. Depending on your specific condition, we may recommend a non-surgical or surgical treatment.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Localized Disease
Liquid nitrogen is a very cold substance (-196 degrees Fahrenheit) that is sprayed on lesions to freeze, damage, and kill malignant cancer cells. The treated area will blister and then heal as a shallow wound. Liquid nitrogen can treat superficial skin cancers.
Very thin, superficial cancers can be treated with a topical medication called 5-fluorouicil (Efudex), which is applied twice a day for several weeks. It targets cancer cells and destroys them while leaving healthy cells intact. During treatment, the skin will become inflamed before it begins to heal.
We apply a topical cream called imiquimod (Aldara or Zyclara) for several weeks to stimulate your immune system to attack and kill skin cancer. The skin will be inflamed during treatment as cancer cells are destroyed, but will then begin to heal.
We may recommend radiation therapy for patients who are not fit for surgery due to health issues, or whose large tumors would require disfiguring surgery. Radiation consists of up to 30 separate treatments over a series of weeks and is performed by a trusted radiation oncologist.
This treatment targets shallow, non-aggressive cancers to perform a “scrape and burn” procedure. The area is numbed with local anesthesia, and then we use a tool known as a curette to scrape out cancer cells. We then burn the area with an electric needle. The entire procedure is performed three times to ensure the entire area around and under the skin cancer has been treated. The skin will then heal naturally.
To remove skin cancer surgically, we numb the cancer site with local anesthesia and then, depending on the type and size of your cancer, we remove a football-shaped margin of skin around your cancer. This section of skin is sent to a lab so that its edges can be examined for lingering cancer. We will suture the site closed with two layers of stiches—the first of which is remove in one to two weeks, and the second layer in two to three months.
We are pleased to offer a variety of skin cancer treatment in Palm Desert, California, to help our patients enjoy healthy and fulfilling lives. If you are concerned about a change in your skin or have questions about your treatment options, contact Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Specialists at 760-773-6616 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Michael J. Messina, our experienced dermatologist.