Treatment Options for Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Fortunately there are many treatment options available to you if you are diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) or Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). The best choice depends on many factors, including the subtype of cancer, the location of the cancer, your age, and your personal preferences. Your dermatologist will go over the options with you.
Surgical excision is an option for almost all BCCs and SCCs. This procedure is performed in the outpatient office and typically lasts no more than 30 minutes. The doctor will administer a local anesthetic so that you will not feel pain. He/she will then cut out the skin cancer and a margin of normal skin to ensure complete removal. Finally, the doctor will close your wound with sutures. In most cases, you will need to return to the office 1-2 weeks later to have the sutures removed.
Electrodessication and Curettage (ED&C)
ED&C is an option for most BCCs and some SCCs. This procedure is performed in the outpatient office and typically lasts no more than 15 minutes. The doctor will administer a local anesthetic so that you will not feel pain. He/she will then alternate between using a sharp curette and small electrical current to “burn and scrape away” the skin cancer cells. The end result is a wound that will heal with time, but not need sutures.
In some cases skin cancers can be treated with topical creams. Typically these are applied at home for weeks at a time. Your doctor will give you specific instructions depending on your situation. Different creams are available and work in different ways. Imiquimod (brand: Aldara) is an immunomodulator that activates your body’s immune system to attack the cancer cells. Fluorouracil (brand: Efudex) is a topical chemotherapy that gets absorbed into cancer cells, killing them with time. Other topical options are currently in development and hold promise for the future.