Skin Cancer Treatment

Expert treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Doctor discusses skin cancer treatment with patient

Your treatment for skin cancer depends on which type of skin cancer you have:

  • Nonmelanoma are the more common skin cancers that rarely spread to other parts of the body. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are nonmelanoma cancers, sometimes called BCC and SCC.

You may have questions and concerns about your treatment options. You may also want to know how you’ll feel and function after treatment, and if you’ll have to change your normal activities.

Your healthcare provider is the best person to answer your questions. They can tell you what your treatment choices are, how well they’re expected to work, and what the risks and side effects are. Your healthcare provider may advise a specific treatment. Or you may be offered more than one and asked to decide which one you’d like to use. It can be hard to make this decision. It's important to take the time you need to make the best decision.

Treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer

Treatment for  the major types of nonmelanoma skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) may include the following:

  • Surgery removes the tumor. Among the options:

    • Simple excision is done when the doctor can easily cut out the skin cancer.

    • Mohs micrographic surgery involves the doctor removing layers of tissue until all of the cancer has been removed.

    • Electrodesiccation and curettage is drying the tissue with an electric current and then removing the tissue with a special instrument.

    • Cryosurgery is using cold to freeze and destroy cancer cells. Also called cryoablation and cryotherapy.

    • Laser surgery is the use of powerful laser beams to destroy tumors.

    • Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells.

    • Topical chemotherapy is the use of  anticancer drugs in a lotion or cream applied to the skin.

Talk to your doctor about these and other options for treating nonmelanoma skin cancer. Researchers are discovering new therapies for treating cancer all the time, giving doctors new resources for your care.

Experts in treating nonmelanoma skin cancer

Legacy Cancer Institute, located in Portland, OR, ranks among the nation’s best cancer programs. Our team features some of the region’s most recognized specialists who work together to diagnose and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Find the right provider and treatment close to home.

Legacy Cancer Institute is accredited as an integrated network cancer program by the American College of surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC). Learn more about our quality cancer care.

Working together for you

Our cancer experts work together with a common goal: delivering the right care for you.

A range of specialists collaborate regularly in meetings called tumor boards to discuss the best plan for your care. Your treatment plan is made just for you, depending on your general health, your age, your particular cancer and its growth.

Legacy Health collaborates with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to advance cancer care in our region. By working together, you benefit from the strength of both leaders in cancer care. As an integrated community cancer program for adults, we make sure that you have access to the latest treatments, technology and research available. 

What happens next

Many cancer treatments can cause challenging side effects. Your cancer team is dedicated to helping you manage these symptoms in the best ways possible. Comfort care can treat symptoms to help improve your quality of life; this is also called palliative care.

To see how well your treatment is working, some of the tests used to diagnose and stage your cancer may be repeated. Your doctor uses these tests to decide whether to stop, change or continue treatment based on the results. These tests can also determine if cancer has returned. Whenever possible, we work to stop the growth of cancer and reduce the chance of cancer coming back.  

Nonmelanoma cancers are likely to come back or form other tumors within five years. Talk to your doctor about a recommended schedule for follow-up skin cancer screening.

More support

You are not alone. Legacy offers support throughout your cancer journey, as well as care for your emotional, social and spiritual needs.