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Skin Cancer Surgery

The type of surgery your doctor recommends for skin cancer will depend on the size of the growth and where it is located. Possibilities include excisional surgery, Mohs surgery, and cryosurgery. Most procedures will leave some type of scar. The size and color of the scar will depend on the size of the cancer, the type of surgery for skin cancer, and how your skin heals.

An Introduction to Skin Cancer Surgery

Several types of surgery are used for the treatment of skin cancer. The method that your doctor recommends will depend on the size and place of the growth and other factors.
Types of surgery include:
  • Excisional surgery
  • Mohs surgery
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage
  • Cryosurgery
  • Laser surgery
  • Dermabrasion
  • Grafts.
Excisional Surgery
Excisional surgery for skin cancer is a common treatment. After numbing the area, the surgeon will remove the growth with a scalpel. The surgeon will also remove a border of skin around the growth, called the margin. The margin is examined under a microscope to be certain that all of the cancer cells have been removed. The size of the margin will depend on the size of the growth.
Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery (also called Mohs micrographic surgery) is another common treatment for skin cancer. The area of the growth is numbed, and a specially trained surgeon will shave away thin layers of the growth. Each layer is immediately examined under a microscope. The surgeon will continue to shave away tissue until no cancer cells can be seen under the microscope. In this way, the surgeon can remove all of the cancer and only a small bit of healthy tissue.
Electrodesiccation and Curettage
Electrodesiccation and curettage is the process often used to remove small basal cell skin cancers. The doctor will numb the area that needs to be treated. The cancer is then removed with a sharp tool shaped like a spoon. This tool is called a curette. An electric current is sent into the treated area to control bleeding and to kill any remaining cancer cells. Electrodesiccation and curettage is usually a fast and simple skin cancer surgery.
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