Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, affecting some 2 million people annually. Out of all skin cancers, non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common.
Skin cancers are characterized by the layer of the skin it affects. Melanoma is the cancer of skin cells that produce melanin. Melanoma is a rare but deadly form of skin cancer. There are two other layers of skin right under the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) called basal and squamous cell layers. Cancers of the basal cells or squamous cells are more common than melanoma. The good news is that these cancers are unlikely to spread to other parts of the body like melanoma. Therefore, these non-melanoma skin cancers can be treated and possibly lead to full recovery.
The National Cancer Institute currently recognize 6 different types of treatments for non-melanoma skin cancers. Read ahead for more information:
Surgery to remove cancerous cells is a known to be a particularly effective procedure to treat non-melanoma skin cancer. There are different types of surgical procedures that can be utilized. A dermatologist can resort to Mohs surgical procedure that removes layers of cancerous cells in different steps. Mohs micrographic surgery can remove skin cancer tumors in layers. Such a procedure should be performed only by a highly qualified dermatologist, like Dr. J.R. Gunter of Georgetown Dermatology, Dermatologist in Georgetown.
There are new types of procedures such as cryosurgery that destroys cancerous cells by freezing them to death. Surgeons may also use excision procedures to cut or shave off tumors off the skin.
Radiation therapy uses highly potent x-rays to target and prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading. There are actually two types of radiation therapy: external and internal. As the name suggests, external radiation therapy is delivered by machines from outside the body. Internal radiation therapy uses tools like needles and catheters to get the x-rays as close to the cancerous cells as possible.
Chemotherapy may be recommended for skin cancer patients in advanced stages. The treatment kills cancerous cells and prevents them from multiplying. Chemotherapy can be taken orally, injected internally, or delivered via drugs. Chemotherapy for nonmelanoma skin cancers is typically administered onto the skin (topically).
In this treatment, the doctor first administers a drug into the bloodstream of the patient. The doctor will then shine a laser light onto the skin, which activates the drug that goes on to kill cancerous cells. The drug does not cause major damage to healthy cells.
A doctor will recommend medications and substances that boost the patient’s natural immune system with the hope that immunity will be able to fight off the cancer. This method of treatment is also known as immunotherapy.
In this treatment method, drugs and other types of substances are used to target and kill the cancerous cells. Tools like signal transduction inhibitors may be used to kill cancer cells like affected basal cells.
The above are the treatments currently available and approved for non-melanoma cancers. New types of treatments are also being tested every day and might become available soon.