This technique is usually reserved for small lesions. The growth is scraped off with a curette (an instrument with a sharp, ring-shaped tip), and burning heat produced by an electrocautery needle destroys residual tumor and controls bleeding. This procedure is typically repeated a few times, a deeper layer of tissue being scraped and burned each time to help ensure that no tumor cells remain. It can produce cure rates approaching those of surgical excision for superficially invasive squamous cell carcinomas without high-risk characteristics. However, it is not recommended for any invasive or aggressive SCCs, those in high-risk or difficult sites, such as the eyelids, genitalia, lips and ears, or other sites that would be left with cosmetically undesirable results, since the procedure leaves a sizable, hypo pigmented scar.
The physician destroys the tumor tissue by freezing it with liquid nitrogen, using a cotton-tipped applicator or spray device. There is no cutting or bleeding, and no anesthesia is required. The procedure may be repeated several times at the same session to help ensure destruction of all malignant cells. The growth becomes crusted and scabbed, and usually falls off within weeks. Redness, swelling, blistering and crusting can occur following treatment, and in dark-skinned patients, some pigment may be lost. Inexpensive and easy to administer, cryosurgery may be the treatment of choice for patients with bleeding disorders or intolerance to anesthesia. However, it has a lower overall cure rate than the surgical methods. Depending on the physician's expertise, the 5-year cure rate can be quite high with selected, generally superficial squamous cell carcinoma; but cryosurgery is not often used today for invasive SCC because deeper portions of the tumor may be missed and because scar tissue at the cryotherapy site might obscure a recurrence.
Unfortunately not all skin cancers are operable, weather due to location and/or size. This is when our providers work with Radiation Oncology to ensure our patents receive the best possible care and treatment outcome available.
Radiation therapy is one form of medical treatment used to treat your cancer. It may be used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy, almost anywhere within your body. Innovative new techniques have evolved and are still evolving, enabling delivery of higher radiation doses to cancer cells and limited doses to your normal tissue.
To receive a professional diagnosis or learn about these and other treatment options, contact Cumberland Skin Surgery and Dermatology today. Schedule a consultation online or call 615.449.5771 (Lebanon) or 615.964.5941 (Hermitage).