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There are several types of standard treatment used in treating skin cancer:
Surgery: Surgery options for skin cancer include:
Electrodesiccation and curettage: This medical procedure involves two steps. First, the tumor is removed with a currette - a sharp, spoon-shaped medical instrument. Second, the operated area is treated afterwards with a needle-shaped electrode that sends out an electric current. The electrode plays two roles: 1) stops the bleeding and 2) destroys the cancer cells that remained after the tumor was removed. This two step procedure may be repeated several times during the surgery until the cancer is completely removed.
Cryosurgery or cryptotherapy: This procedure uses a special instrument that destroys the cancer tissues by freezing them with liquid-nitrogen.
Laser surgery: A medical procedure that uses a laser beam to remove the tumor.
Radiation therapy uses high focused x-rays to destroy the cancer cells. It is often used as the only treatment option for those patients that are not good candidates for surgery. Also, radiation therapy is used as a palliative therapy, for stage III and IV melanoma to relieve the symptoms and improve the life quality of the patient, or as an adjuvant treatment (the treatment that is administrated after the surgery was performed in order to destroy the remaining cancerous cells).
Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment (affects cells throughout the entire body) that uses drugs that either stop the abnormal growth and dividing process of the cancerous cells or kills the cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be administrated as an adjuvant treatment or in combination with other types of cancer treatment.
Biological therapy (biotherapy or immunotherapy) is a type of treatment that uses the immune system of the patient to fight against cancer. It is mostly used as an adjuvant therapy after the tumor was removed through surgery. It is also used to treat advanced and recurrent melanomas. This therapy is using body substances or artificial substances to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer.
Photodynamic therapy is a cancer treatment that uses a certain drug that is absorbed by the cancer cells, and a special type of laser light to then kill the cancer cells which absorbed the drug. The drug is injected into the body through the vein and becomes active only when the skin is exposed to the laser light killing the cancer cells.
Article by Alina Morrow, MS
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