Skin Cancer Surgery For Squamous Cell Carcinoma: What You Need To Know

Your doctor tells you that you need skin cancer surgery. Your blood pressure rises. Hearing the word "cancer" is never something that anyone wants to deal with. In your case, you have squamous cell carcinoma. Roughly 2 out of every 10 diagnosed skin cancers are this kind, according to the American Cancer Society. Fortunately, these very noticeable cancers (they often look red and scaly or crust over) are highly curable if removed right away. While there are plenty of surgical treatments available, the array of options may make you kind of dizzy. That's okay. Check out some of the top questions that you need to go through with the doctor before deciding on a course of action.

Is There Just One Type of Skin Cancer Surgery?

No. Depending on your individual situation and needs, your doctor may help you to choose from several different options. Excision, or cutting, involves the doctor using a scalpel to remove the squamous cell carcinoma. After the removal, the surgeon then closes the area with stitches. Mohs micrographic surgery is an option that involves using a ring-shaped surgical instrument to remove the tumor and a surrounding thin layer of tissue. You'll wait after the surgery for the doctor to determine if the tumor goes deeper. If this is the case, the procedure is repeated. In electrosurgery the doctor first scrapes off the visible cancer and then uses an electrocautery needle to destroy and parts if the tumor that are left. Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the tumor off.

Is One Surgery Better Than Another?

It's possible, but not necessarily true. One type of surgery may be better for you, but not for someone else. It depends entirely on your case and what your doctor feels is necessary and appropriate. Just because you know someone who had one type of surgery doesn't mean that your doctor will recommend the same treatment for you. The medical professional will take your current diagnosis, the depth of the tumor, other medical conditions, your health history and your treatment goals into consideration when helping you to make a choice.

Do All Surgeries Require Cutting and Stitches?

No. Cryosurgery freezes the area off without actually cutting through the skin. There is also no bleeding involved. But, after the surgery you may see redness and blistering or crusting. This is all a normal part of the normal healing process.

What Is Recovery Like?

Again, that depends on the type of surgery you get. If you need stitches you'll have to care for them (keep them clean and dry) and have them removed. If you don't have stitches you may just have to deal with an irritated-looking area (until it heals). The amount of pain you feel afterwards also varies. If the surgeon must remove a larger or deeper area, you're likely to feel more and have a longer healing time. But if the area is small or only on the surface, you'll have minimal pain. In most cases you won't have any long-term restrictions (such as activity) following surgery.

Skin cancer surgery for squamous cell carcinomas can cure your condition and give you a cancer-free life. Before starting treatment your doctor will review all of your options and help you to choose the one that's best for you. Contact a clinic like Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center to learn more.