Ask a Dermatologist: What are the treatment options for skin cancer?
Question: What are the treatment options for skin cancer? What treatment to you usually recommend to your patients?
There are several different treatment options for skin cancer. We used to only be able to to do regular excisions or Mohs surgery excisions. However, we now can offer another option that is non surgical and non-scarring–superficial radiation therapy.
Previously, radiation was not considered to be an effective treatment for skin cancer because the traditional radiation was inferior to surgery as cure rates did not achieve the desired effects and recurrence was high. With superficial radiation therapy, there are no side effects as there are with regular radiation so the patient does not have any type of pain or burning or and does not feel sick at all. They can go through their therapy on a twice weekly basis and it typically takes 40 seconds to receive the painless treatment. The treatment site typically turns slightly pink in color initially, and towards the end of the treatment it begins to appear more reddish in coloration. Again, there are zero side effects at all–no pain, no scarring, no bleeding and no post-operative issues or complications because, of course, there is no surgery performed on the site. With the newer superficial radiation treatment device offered through Sensus, the tumor depth and bulk can even be monitored through weekly ultrasound so that the patient and the physician can watch as the tumor is being treated down to nothing, including a margin surrounding the tumor itself.
Patients also have options for topical therapy to superficial skin cancers if they are basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. These can be applied by the patient in their own home for a period of weeks in order to achieve the desired effect, and then depending on the outcome, a decision will be made as to whether a rebiopsy of the site will be necessary to determine cure.
Dr. Ellen Turner is a double board-certified dermatologist with practices in Dallas and Irving, Texas. She specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology, as well as anti-aging and regenerative medicine.
To schedule an appointment, please call 214-373-7546.Written by Dallas Dermatologist Dr. Ellen Turner.