There are a number of ways to treat skin cancer. Your doctor will need to consider several factors when deciding the best treatment for you, including the type of skin cancer you have, the size and location of the skin cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.
Treatment options for skin cancer include surgical removal of the tumour and surrounding tissue, scraping, burning and radiation.
If skin cancer is detected early, it is likely that removing the tumour is all that is needed. That means the earlier skin cancer is diagnosed, the less invasive, and more successful, any treatment is likely to be.
Treating non-melanoma skin cancer
More than 99% of people with basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are cured. These cancers are often removed in doctors’ surgeries.
Melanomas are almost always removed by surgery. Treatment for melanoma is most effective when the cancer is found and treated in its early stages, when the tumour is thin and still confined to the epidermis (the top or outer layer of skin).
If you are told you have skin cancer, make sure you ask:
- What type of skin cancer do you have?
- How extensive is the skin cancer?
- Do you need treatment immediately?
- Is the person offering treatment well trained to do so?
- What are the treatment options, and the benefits and risks of the treatment options?
- Will you be referred to a dermatologist if you have not seen one already?
- Will the clinic inform your GP of your diagnosis and any treatment you may undergo?
You can also get further information and support by calling the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.
This information was last reviewed in Content updated March 2011
This information has been reviewed by: Dr Andrew Satchell, Dermatologist, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Dubbo Dermatology; Irena Brozek, Research and Development Officer – Sun, Cancer Council NSW; Neva Sperling, Consumer; Monica Tucker, Cancer Information Consultant, Cancer Council Helpline; and Margaret Whitton, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Department of Dermatology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.View our editoral policy