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How is surgery used to treat skin cancer?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

There are many types of surgery that may be used to treat skin cancer, depending on the type of cancer and the size and location of the tumor. Sometimes, excisional surgery may be used, which involves surgically removing the tumor and a small amount of surrounding tissue. For larger tumors, Mohs surgery may be used. This is a procedure in which the tumor is shaved off layer by layer, and each layer is analyzed before the next is removed until no cancer cells are found. This procedure helps limit the amount of tissue removed. Other surgery methods may include curettage and electrodessication (shaving off layers of the tumor and burning the base with an electric needle), cryosurgery (freezing the tumor with liquid nitrogen), and laser surgery (using a laser beam to destroy cancer cells). Talk to your doctor to find out whether surgery is right for you.

Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
Surgery can be used to both treat skin cancer by removal of tumor and flap reconstruction. Moh's surgery may be performed under a microscope to remove tumors of the skin and examine the margins. Once the margins are free of cancer, reconstructive tissue flaps can be performed to close the defect. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.