Skin cancer often means surgery. However, surgery to remove all of the affected tissue can be disfiguring, especially if the treatment area is located somewhere that's highly visible, such as the face. Fortunately, surgery is not always required. Advancements made in the treatment of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers, the least deadly types of skin cancers, have given patients new alternatives to invasive and painful surgery. Treatment may even be as simple as applying a topical medicine over a period of time. The following treatments are effective for the treatment of certain types of skin cancers as well as actinic keratoses, which are precursors of skin cancer.
If you get a wart, your dermatologist may freeze it off using liquid nitrogen. Cryotherapy can be used in the treatment of cancer cells and pre-cancer cells as well. Cryotherapy is easy and convenient, but it can cause some scarring. The most common side effect is loss of pigment in the treated area.
You can undergo chemotherapy simply by applying a topical chemotherapy drug to the affected area. One drawback of this medication is that it doesn't treat deeper tissues. Therefore, it's recommended for superficial lesions only. Side effects are not as severe as those you would typically expect with chemotherapy treatment. However, you may experience some redness, swelling, and erosion at the application site.
Radiation kills cancer cells by preventing them from growing and dividing. For this reason, it is a wonderful and often used tool in the battle against cancer. Radiation therapy requires several sessions during which radiation is precisely administered in small doses. Since radiation can cause skin cancer later in life, this treatment is usually not ideal for younger people who may develop lesions later on as a result of the treatment.
If a large area of skin is affected, photodynamic therapy may be an option. In this treatment, you apply a topical solution to the affected area that makes cancer cells overly sensitive to light. When the cells receive too much light, they are destroyed. While this treatment provides a good cosmetic outcome over large areas of skin, it is not recommended for aggressive or late-stage cancers.
As you can see, there are effective alternative treatments available for certain types of skin cancers. Thanks to modern medical advances, a diagnosis of skin cancer doesn't automatically mean surgery is in your future. Contact a company like Gateway Dermatology PC to learn more.