Skin Cancer Treatments:
If skin cancer is detected in a patient, there are multiple ways in which our medical clinic can treat it. The skin cancer treatments we use includes:
Cryotherapy, which is also known as cryosurgery, is a medical procedure in which liquid nitrogen (a very cold substance) is sprayed and applied over a person’s skin to destroy skin tissues. The objective here is to remove unwanted lesions (as well as spots or patches) that don’t look like the surrounding skin. In general, such lesions can be classified as one of the following:
- Benign (non-cancerous)
- Actinic keratosis (this denotes the presence of precancerous skin cancers resembling scaly patches on your skin, and it’s best to rid the skin of them as early as possible)
- Superficial skin cancer (that is, cancer that is merely located on the surface of the skin)
If your doctor believes a suspicious area on your skin might be potentially cancerous, the area (or part of it) will be removed, sent over to a lab and analysed under a microscope. This procedure is what is known as a biopsy. Should the biopsy successfully remove the entire tumor, it’s often enough to cure certain skin cancers (e.g. Basal and Squamous Cell) without any follow-up treatment necessary.
The type of skin biopsy varies from patient to patient, as it’s based on the suspected form of skin cancer, the size of it, its location on your body and other factors. Nevertheless, all skin biopsies are almost always done using a local anesthetic, which is injected into the area with a tiny needle.
There are three main types of skin biopsies:
(1) shave biopsy, during which a razor-like tool is used to remove a small section of the topmost layers of the skin
(2) punch biopsy, in which a small core of the skin is taken out using a circular tool
(3) excisional biopsy, which involves removing an entire lump or area of abnormal skin with a scalpel or small knife.
An excision is similar to an excisional biopsy except that in this case, the diagnosis is already known and confirmed. As with excisional biopsies, the skin is initially numbed with a local anesthetic. The tumor is then cut out using a surgical knife, along with some of the surrounding normal skin. More often than not, the remaining skin is then stitched back together carefully, which is why the patient will notice a scar in the area following the operation.
Skin cancer treatments aren’t just limited to the kind of scheduled operations that are mentioned above. There are also a number of field treatments which include some topical creams. Ask your doctor for more details around these treatments.
Cell Based Cream
In Australia, a cell based skin cancer killing cream used commonly to treat Actinic Keratosis Squamous Cell Carcinoma. This cream prevents the functioning of an enzyme called thymidylate synthetase, which effectively stops cancerous cells’ DNA from being made. The course or length of time for applying this cream depends on your skin doctor’s instructions, although it’s normally around 3-4 weeks for Actinic Keratosis, and approximately 6 weeks for Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Immune Activating Cream
In Australia, an alternative to the first cream also exists to treat skin cancer. It actively stimulates the immune system to produce interferon, a chemical designed for destroying cancerous and precancerous cells. It is also beneficial for treating a milder form of skin cancer called Basal Cell Carcinoma, if the doctor decides that surgery isn’t the most appropriate treatment. Generally, patients are asked to put this cream onto the affected skin once a day, 5 days a week for a total of 6 weeks. The cream needs to be left on the skin for about 8 hours, during which bathing and showering are not allowed.