Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Removal

Serving Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby and surrounding areas.

  • The most common skin cancer removed in my office is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC).
  • The second most common skin cancer that I remove is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
  • Basal Cell Carcinomas and Squamous Cell Carcinomas are called “Non-Melanoma” Skin Cancers.
  • Basal Cell Carcinomas may be classified as either simple or complicated.

Preparation:

  • You may eat normally prior to the procedure.
  • Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
  • You will be able to drive home or use public transportation after the procedure.

Electrodessication and Curettage (All Types of BCC and Small SCC):

  • The skin around the lesion is injected with a local anesthetic to numb the area.
  • The injection stings for a few seconds. After this, there is no pain or discomfort.
  • The lesion is removed from the skin in a scraping motion with an instrument called a curette.
  • As the area is numb from the anesthetic, this process is not painful.
  • The curetted area is then treated with electrocautery, a hot electric needle.  This is not painful as the area is still numb.
  • Electrocautery stops any bleeding and kills any residual cancer cells.
  • The lesion is scraped and cauterized a total of 3 times in one visit.
  • No stitches are required.
  • Antibiotic and a bandage are used to cover the wound.
  • The day after surgery, the bandage should be removed and a small amount of antibiotic should be be applied.  This should occur twice daily site is healed, for about two weeks.
  • Redness, pain, swelling or a discharge from the wound may be a sign of infection.  The doctor should be informed immediately.
  • You may bathe, shower and do your normal activities unless the non-melanoma skin cancer that has been removed is very large and there is a risk of the wound being damaged. The doctor will inform you about this.
  • There is a small chance that the lesion could grow back.

Surgical Excision (All types of BCC and SCC):

  • The skin around the lesion is injected with a local anesthetic to numb the area.
  • The injection stings for a few seconds. After this, there is no pain or discomfort.
  • The non-melanoma skin cancer and a small amount of surrounding normal skin is cut with a scalpel and removed.
  • As the area is numb from the anesthetic, this process is not painful.
  • Stitches are used to close the opening.
  • Antibiotic and a bandage are used to cover the wound.
  • The day after surgery, the bandage should be removed and a small amount of antibiotic should be be applied.  This should occur twice daily until the stitches are removed.
  • Redness, pain, swelling or a discharge from the wound may be a sign of infection.  The doctor should be informed immediately.
  • The stitches are removed in 5 to 10 days.
  • The removal of stitches is painless.
  • You may bathe, shower and do your normal activities unless the lesion that has been removed is very large and there is a risk of the wound being damaged. The doctor will inform you about this.
  • There is a small chance that the non-melanoma skin cancer could grow back.

Radiation (All types of BCC and SCC):

  • To receive radiotherapy of a basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, the lesion must be biopsied first.
  • To do the biopsy:
    • The skin around the lesion is injected with a local anesthetic to numb the area.
    • The injection stings for a few seconds. After this, there is no pain or discomfort.
    • A small portion of the lesion is removed.
    • As the area is numb from the anesthetic, this process is not painful.
    • Stitches are usually not necessary to close the opening.
    • The biopsied area is then treated with electrocautery, a hot electric needle.  This is not painful as the area is still numb.
    • The electrocautery is used to stop any bleeding.
    • Antibiotic and a bandage are used to cover the wound.
    • The day after surgery, the bandage should be removed and a small amount of antibiotic should be be applied for 1 week.
    • Redness, pain, swelling or a discharge from the wound may be a sign of infection.  The doctor should be informed immediately.
    • If stitches were used, they are removed in 5 to 10 days.
    • The removal of stitches is painless.
    • You may bathe, shower and do your normal activities after the biopsy.
  • Once the biopsy result is available the doctor will make a referral to a radiation specialist.
  • In Hamilton the radiation treatments and specialists are located at the Juravinski Cancer Centre next to the Henderson General Hospital.
  • The first visit with the radiation specialist if for an assessment only.
  • If he or she agrees with your doctor that the lesion is suitable for radiation, treatments will be arranged.
  • Most non-melanoma skin cancers required 10 to 15 treatments.  These are done daily, Monday to Friday over a period of 2 to 3 weeks.
  • After the radiation is complete, the spot will become red, scabby and crusted.
  • This will heal over the next few weeks.
  • There is a small chance that the lesion could grow back.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery (Complicated BCC and Complicated SCC) :

  • Mohs micrographic surgery is a detailed surgical procedure to treat aggressive non-melanoma skin cancers, mainly on the face and neck.
  • This treatment is usually reserved for the most complicated cases.
  • I refer my patients from the Hamilton area, to the  Mohs Centre at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.
  • Initially, the diagnosis must been confirmed with a biopsy (see above), prior to the referral being made