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Skin Cancer Treatment

Our Approach

Susan Chon, M.D.

Dermatologist Susan Chon, M.D., performs cryotherapy on a skin cancer lesion. This minimally invasive procedure uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin cancer cells.

Your care for skin cancer at MD Anderson includes a treatment plan customized to your specific type of cancer. Surgery is the most common therapy for skin cancer. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers usually are removed by one of the surgeries listed below.

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Most advanced skin cancer treatments, including least-invasive surgery
  • Most accurate diagnostic technology and methods
  • One of largest skin cancer programs in the nation
  • Range of clinical trials for skin cancer

Why Choose MD Anderson?

Treatment at MD Anderson

Basal and squamous cell skin cancers are treated in our:

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Mohs Surgery

Very thin layers of tissue are removed and looked at immediately under a microscope. If skin cancer cells can be seen in the layer, the dermatologic surgeon continues shaving off layers one at a time until all cancerous tissue is removed. Mohs surgery causes less scarring and has a shorter healing period than removing the entire area at once.

Mohs surgery is done at a doctor’s office as an outpatient in a hospital. The skin is numbed. Occasionally a mild sedative may be given. MD Anderson has a Mohs and Dermasurgery Center dedicated to this cancer treatment.


Cryosurgery is less invasive than conventional surgery. The doctor applies liquid nitrogen or argon gas to the cancer tissue to freeze and destroy it. The tissue is then allowed to thaw. This process may be repeated.

Because the doctor can focus cryosurgical treatment on a limited area, destruction of nearby healthy tissue may be avoided. The treatment may be used with other therapies, including surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation. Sometimes cryosurgery is an option when surgery is not possible.

Laser Surgery

Lasers use an intense, focused beam of light to destroy skin cancer tissue. The laser destruction, plus the body's immune response to the injury, results in a blistered wound that takes several weeks to heal.

The laser can be set to remove the skin in controlled layers, depending on the depth of the cancer. The surgeon may remove the top layer only or the top layer plus the next deeper layer and so on.

Lasers may be used to treat:

  • Skin cancer in hard-to-reach places such as between the toes
  • Superficial skin cancers
  • Precancers
  • Scars after skin cancer surgery
  • Noncancerous skin growths


A scraping instrument (curette) and electrical currents are used to destroy and burn small and superficial skin cancer. This also is called "scraping and burning.” The abnormal area is treated, along with a rim of surrounding skin called a safety margin.

Our Skin Cancer Clinical Trials

Because of its status as one of the world’s premier cancer centers, MD Anderson participates in many clinical trials (research studies) for skin cancer. Sometimes they are a patient’s best option for treatment. Other times, they help researchers learn how to treat cancer and improve the future of cancer treatment.

To find out more about clinical trials at MD Anderson for skin cancer, visit our Clinical Trials database or speak to your doctor.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center