Skin cancer treatments include surgical excision, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy, and immunosuppressant drugs. Surgical removal of cancer tissue is the most common form of skin cancer treatment. This involves removing cancer cells from the skin’s surface (the epidermis) and the supporting dermis (the outer layer of skin). In many cases, surgical excision is followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to eliminate remaining cancer cells.
When cancer cells are present in a localised skin area, chemo or radiation therapy is often combined with a skin cancer treatment plan. If a cancer cell is involved, doctors use various methods to kill the cancerous cells, including cutting cancer out with surgical scissors, using a laser or saline solution, or injecting drugs into the area. Sometimes, doctors use more than one method to obliterate the tumour or growth. Chemotherapy can be used to treat any skin cancer. The doctor makes a treatment plan based on the type of cancer, decides how best to treat the symptoms, and encourages the body to fight against cancer.
Other types of skin cancer treatment may involve using drugs to suppress the immune system or treating the symptoms. Several therapies help people deal with the symptoms of their disease. Doctors might treat skin cancer with drugs to control the immune system, for example, or use drugs to stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities to fight against the tumour. These various therapies are often combined for the best results.
Doctors perform surgery if the tumours are large or dangerous. One popular surgery, called squamous cell carcinoma tumour surgery (SCCT), involves the removal of a single large cell tumour. Another surgery, known as an eyelidectomy, removes the lower part of a patient’s eyelid to treat small malignancies under the eyes. A mastectomy is another procedure that may be recommended to remove tumours in the chest, stomach or liver. In some cases, doctors recommend surgery to remove all or part of the lung. The types of surgery generally depend on the person’s overall health and their particular diagnosis.
Doctors perform both open and laparoscopic surgery. With the former, the surgeon uses a small incision to make an incision to remove the tumour while still preserving most of the tissue. Laparoscopic surgery is done with the help of a miniature camera that allows the doctor to operate inside the body without making a big incision. This type of surgery requires smaller instruments that can quickly be passed through tiny openings. Both surgeries are less invasive and provide excellent treatment.
If the disease is not very serious, doctors recommend removing just the affected area. However, if the lump is of a suspicious size or alters the colour of the skin, a surgery called a melanoma excision might be recommended. In this case, the doctor removes only the affected area. Even though it is less invasive than an excision, it still involves general anesthesia, risky during surgical procedures. This treatment option may also be used for people with other forms of cancer, such as non-melanoma skin cancer, because it can help remove any remaining tumour or abnormality. Sometimes, people have both melanoma and non-melanoma.
Another kind of treatment is oral and topical chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs are often used alongside surgery. These drugs are injected into the target area, where they attack cancer cells directly. However, side effects can be severe, and there is also an increased risk of developing resistance to the drug when the body’s immune system is weakened. There is also a risk of hair loss after the treatment, although this usually occurs in the very early stages of the condition. Therefore, chemotherapy is often used to treat more advanced cases.
Surgery is another form of treatment, which is often used to treat more aggressive cancers. When doctors discover that the disease has reached an advanced stage, they may remove the entire tumour. However, if the surrounding tissue does not show signs of cancer, the doctor may choose to operate on just part of the skin rather than the entire area. This allows them to remove the most likely cancer cells without having to perform a hysterectomy.