Pediatrics - Skin Cancer Treatment
The goal of treatment is to remove all of the cancer cells. Most skin cancers that are detected and treated early have very good cure rates. There are several types of removal methods. The treatment that your child receives depends on the type, size, location, and stage of his or her cancer. Most treatments can take place in your doctor’s office and use a local anesthesia.
Electrodesiccation and curettage is a procedure that removes the surface layer of skin cancer and gently burns (“cauterizes”) its base to destroy any remaining cells. A simple excision is a method that cuts out the tumor and some healthy cells around it. The incision is stitched back together. Cryosurgery is a treatment method that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill cancer cells.
A specialized technique, Mohs micrographically controlled surgery, is used to treat large skin cancers or skin cancers that have come back. For Mohs surgery, the doctor removes a layer of skin containing the cancerous cells and examines it under a microscope right away. The process is repeated until the skin samples are found to be free of cancer cells. The advantages of Mohs surgery are that only the minimum amount of tissue necessary is removed and the specimens are carefully examined. Mohs surgery is associated with high cure rates.
Skin grafting and reconstructive surgery may be necessary after the removal of large skin cancers. Scarring after skin cancer removal is common. Cosmetic surgery techniques can improve the appearance of scars. Some people choose to cover their scars with make-up.
If your child’s cancer has spread, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy treatments may be necessary to treat the metastasized cancer or relieve symptoms. Skin cancer can return even years later. Your doctor will let you know how often you should be rechecked. The five year survival rates are the best for small superficial cancers that were detected and treated early.
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