Mohs micrographic surgery, also known as chemosurgery, is a process by which the dermatologist removes samples of the cancerous tissue in sections and tests each sample before removing more. This way, the doctor is able to exactly determine the boundary between cancerous and healthy tissue. The doctor is able to remove as much cancer as possible while salvaging healthy tissue. Patient recovery rates with Mohs surgery reach 98%, although it is only suitable for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and certain melanomas.
Cryosurgery is a minimally invasive procedure that uses deep freezing properties of carbon dioxide, liquid nitrogen, or argon gas to form ice crystals within cancerous cells, thereby destroying them. While this process generally results in less pain and scarring than other methods, there is some danger of damage to adjacent healthy tissue, especially nerve tissue. Cryosurgery is best suited for well-defined tumors.
Curettage and desiccation is a two-step procedure whereby the doctor uses a sharp scoop to scrape the tumor down to its base. Then, the lesion is cauterized and scraped down to the noncancerous tissue. The doctor may repeat this process a few times until he or she believes the tumor is gone. While this method can be suitable for several different forms of cancer, its success rate varies wildly and may also result in a longer recovery time.
Prescription creams may be possible for a select number of patients. Although they vary, most creams work by inducing the body to produce immune system proteins such as interferon. These proteins attack the cancer within the body in a more natural way. This avoids the scarring and healing associated with other approaches, but there can be serious side effects such as burning, itching, and fever. Approximately 70% of patients recover using prescription creams.
Radiation therapy and surgical removal are by far the most common methods of treating cancer, and both are highly effective. Radiation therapy, as the name implies, is a process of blasting the cancerous tissue with doses of radiation to interrupt its division abilities. Then, surgery may be required to remove the destroyed tissue. There are many side effects attributed to radiation therapy including hair loss, nausea, weight loss, fatigue, and peeling skin.