Mayo Clinic's experienced doctors and surgeons work as a team to create a customized skin cancer treatment plan for you, giving you access to the latest options. Your team may recommend one or more of these treatments.
Surgical options include:
- Excision. Your surgeon removes (excises) cancerous tissue, along with a margin of surrounding healthy tissue.
- Curettage and electrodesiccation. After scraping away most of the cancerous tissue with an instrument (curette), your doctor applies a mild electric current to destroy any remaining abnormal cells.
- Freezing (cryosurgery). Small, early-stage cancers can be destroyed by freezing, using liquid nitrogen.
- Mohs surgery. In Mohs surgery, your surgeon removes the cancerous tissue and surrounding tissue layer by layer. The removal of layers continues until no abnormal cells remain. Mayo Clinic surgeons have extensive expertise and specialized training in Mohs surgery, performing thousands of these surgeries annually.
Other options include:
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- Photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT combines photosensitizing drugs and light to treat superficial skin cancers. During PDT, a liquid drug that makes the cancer cells sensitive to light is applied to the skin. After an hour or two, a light that destroys the skin cancer cells is shined on the area. Mayo Clinic researchers are investigating its effectiveness on more-advanced skin cancers.
- Laser therapy. Certain types of early-stage cancers on the top skin layer can be removed with an intense beam of light (laser) that vaporizes them.
- Creams and ointments. Prescription creams and ointments can help treat certain nonmelanoma skin cancers. Some of these medications require careful supervision by your doctor because they can cause severe skin irritation and other side effects.
- Radiation therapy or chemotherapy. For more-serious, advanced cancers, some people may need radiation therapy or chemotherapy.