A brief overview.
Topical therapy for superficial skin cancers or pre-cancerous conditions is typically performed by dermatologists or primary care providers. There are two different types of topical therapy: . . . read more.
Laser surgery can be successful in treating certain types of cancers and pre-cancerous conditions of the face. Laser energy is used to vaporize the top layer of skin in a manner to minimize injury to the deeper layers of the skin. In conditions where the skin cancer or the pre-cancerous growth is superficial (on the skin surface), lasers can successfully remove the growth with excellent cosmetic results. Generally, as long as the skin cancer is limited to the epidermis, laser surgery can be successful. . . . read more.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a "magic bullet" skin cancer treatment that uses a combination of a photosensitizing agent (Levulan), and a particular type of light (laser or intense pulse light device). The photosensitizing agent (Levulan) is applied to the skin in the form of a liquid and is selectively absorbed by tumor cells over a short span of time. When photosensitizers are exposed to a specific wavelength of light, they produce a form of oxygen that which selectively destroys the tumor cells. . . . read more.
Mohs is a technique for removal of skin cancers by a specially trained group of dermatologists (often called Mohs specialists or Mohs surgeons). The principle advantage of the Mohs technique is that the same physician that removes the skin cancer also subsequently examines the removed skin cancer and surrounding margin of normal skin under a microscope to make sure that the skin cancer has been completely removed. The patient is kept in the Mohs specialists' office and the wound is not repaired until the skin cancer has been completely removed. The Mohs specialist therefore acts as both the dermatologist and the pathologist. After successful removal of the skin cancer reconstructive surgery is performed to repair the hole (defect). Depending on a number factors such as patient preference, size and location of the defect, complexity of the defect, aesthetic expectations of the patient, and need for sedation, the resulting defect may be either repaired by a plastic surgeon or by the Mohs specialist. . . . read more.
Non-Mohs surgical removal (also called wide local excision) of a skin cancer is the most common technique performed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons. This technique relies on an estimate by the part of the physician of how much normal skin to take out around the tumor to fully remove the skin cancer. After the skin has been removed, the wound repaired, and the patient sent home, the removed skin cancer is then sent to a pathologist to examine the margins (boundaries) to make sure that all of the cancer was successfully removed. It typically takes 4-5 days of processing time for the pathologist to make this determination. . . . read more.