Skin cancer is a serious disease plaguing Americans, with nearly 20% of Americans facing the disease in their lifetime. In fact, any person with more than 50 moles on their body or with abnormally large or shaped moles has a much greater risk at contracting melanoma. Even a benign mole is a risk. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is almost always curable, so long as it’s caught early on. Otherwise, melanoma can spread to internal organs and lymph nodes, and could eventually lead to death.
So what is the treatment for skin cancer? Understanding the different types of skin cancer treatment methods available can be crucial to beating and recovering from this disease. Here is a quick breakdown on the most affective types of skin cancer treatment methods and how they work
1. Topical Medications
For very small cancerous spots or moles, dermatologist may use topical spot treatments. These treatments can range, but generally a topical form of chemotherapy is used on the area. This treatment option is not preferred for any cancers spreading slightly within the skin, or for those that are spread across more of the epidermis.
2. Radiation Therapy
Radiation is a common way to help battle cancers, and with skin cancer, this is no exception. Radiation often involves multiple sessions, but works by beating x-ray beams down onto the affected area. Radiation can be very effective against skin cancer, but could cause problems to surrounded areas that are also exposed to this treatment.
3. Scalpel Surgery
This treatment method is performed by a surgeon who basically cuts the cancerous tumor or growth out of the body. Generally, a wider radius of healthy skin is also cut out, to ensure all of the cancer is removed. This type of treatment could also involve multiple sessions, to ensure all cancerous cells are removed.
Cryosurgery is performed by freezing a tumor using liquid nitrogen. The tumor is not removed, but generally falls off within a week or two. This technique does not involve bleeding or cutting, and can also involve multiple sessions. While this method is pain free and non invasive, it does have an overall lower cure rate, because it cannot cut out any cancerous growth under the visible layer of skin.
5. Photodynamic Therapy
One of the last skin cancer treatment methods available is photodynamic therapy. This procedure is usually used for patients with skin cancer on their face or scalp, and involves administering a chemical agent that reacts to light. However, recurrence rates range quite widely (from 0% to 50%), so this treatment is not generally the first avenue explored.
New skin cancer treatment methods are being refined and discovered with time, and soon, new and more effective methods might be approved for dermatology use. If you think you may have skin cancer or are at high risk of developing it, visit your dermatologist to get checked and find out your treatment options.