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How to Treat Skin Cancer on the Face

Learn about treating skin cancer on the face from board-certified dermatologist Ahmet Altiner in this Howcast video.


The majority of skin cancers diagnosed in the United States are basal and squamous cell carcinomas. The majority of these cancers will happen on the face, either the nose, close to the eyelid, or the eyes. The treatment of this can be a sensitive issue as the face is a very cosmetically difficult area to treat. The safest way to treat a skin cancer is to cut it out, meaning excision. However, if the cancer is too big, your dermatologist may choose to involve different types of modalities.

One modality used on the face is called mole surgery. This is different than a simple excision in the sense that the surgery is done in stages in one day right next to a microscope. So your surgeon will have the opportunity to look at every single cut under the microscope to make sure all of the cancer is out. This will make sure normal tissue is not unnecessarily cut and all of the remaining tissue can be used to reconstruct the areas such as the eyelid, the nose, or the ear.

If the cancer is too big, your dermatologist may choose to treat it with a cream such as Efudex and Aldara until it gets a little bit under control. This is only an option if your skin cancer is very early in its stage, such as superficial basal cells or squamous cell carcinoma in situ. If you have more advanced cancer, using creams like Efudex and Aldara is probably not a good idea, so you should talk to your dermatologist and get a referral to see a mole surgeon who can do the minimally invasive surgery.

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