Skin Cancer Treatment
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Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer - Treatments

There are a few effective treatment options for skin cancer. In general, treatment for skin cancer depends on the following factors:

  • Size, type, depth and location of the lesion
  • Stage of the disease when the cancer is found
  • The patient’s general state of health

The main treatment for skin cancer is surgery. However, some patients may also require other treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or cryotherapy.

An individual with cancer should be assessed by a specialist to determine which treatment is best suited for them.


  • Excisional surgery
    This procedure is appropriate for any type of skin cancer. The cancerous tissue and surrounding margin of healthy skin will be cut out (excised). A wide excision – removing extra normal skin around the tumour – may be recommended in some cases. Nearby lymph nodes may be removed and biopsied to stage or treat localised spread of the tumour.
  • Mohs micrographic surgery
    This procedure is used to remove larger, recurring or difficult-to-treat skin cancers, which may include non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal and squamous cell carcinomas. It is often used in areas where it is necessary to conserve as much skin as possible, such as on the nose.

    During the surgical procedure, the skin growth is removed layer by layer, the doctor will examine each layer under the microscope, and surgery continues until no abnormal cells remain. This procedure allows cancerous cells to be removed without taking an excessive amount of surrounding healthy tissue.

If the skin defect after surgery is large, our surgical oncologists will work with a plastic surgeon to provide reconstructive services to restore a natural appearance. The multidisciplinary team will ensure good oncology treatment and aesthetic reconstruction for best outcomes.

Freezing (cryotherapy)

Cryotherapy refers to the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy pre-cancerous skin lesions (actinic keratosis) and some small early skin cancers. Freezing causes the cancerous tissue to die and form a scab that will naturally fall off in time.

Curettage and electrodessication

This is a simple and quick procedure used to treat basal cell cancers or thin squamous cell cancers. After removing most of the skin growth, the doctor scrapes away layers of cancer cells using a device with a circular blade (curet). An electric needle is then used to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

When necessary, this procedure may be used in combination with cryotherapy (see above).

Radiotherapy/ Radiation therapy

Radiotherapy also known as radiation therapy uses powerful energy beams to kill cancer cells. It may be used when the cancer cannot be completely removed during surgery.


For cancers limited to the top layer of skin, creams or lotions containing anti-cancer agents may be applied directly to the skin. Systemic chemotherapy (injected into a vein or taken orally) can be used to treat skin cancers that have spread to other parts of the body.

In patients with advanced skin cancer, chemotherapy may be used alone or with surgery, immunotherapy and radiotherapy.

Photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy destroys skin cancer cells with a combination of laser light and drugs that makes cancer cells sensitive to light.

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth