Learn the Treatment Options

For Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer Patients

You have been diagnosed with a skin cancer that requires further specialized treatment. Dermatologists have a particular practice focus on skin cancers. After examination and review of your diagnosis, the surgeon will review your options at your visit. As part of our efforts to help you make the best-informed decision, this information sheet will give you an overview of the common treatments for your lesion.


  • Considered the first line therapy for skin cancer treatment
  • 5-year cure rates ~97% for squamous cell carcinoma and ~99% for basal cell carcinoma
  • The cancer removed (almost universally) in one visit
  • Performed under local anesthesia
  • Normally takes several hours to complete (depending on number of stages required)
  • Reconstruction normally occurs same day
  • Stitches removed in 2nd visit at 1-2 weeks
  • May require some activity limitation
  • Low risk of complications: mild to moderate pain (treated with Acetaminophen and/or Ibuprofen, rarely narcotics), bleeding (1-2%), infection (1-2%), swelling, temporary or permanent numbness


  • Non-surgical option often recommended for patients who are not good surgical candidates
  • 5-year cure rates of 90-93% for squamous cell carcinoma and 93-96% for basal cell carcinoma
  • May require 20-25 visits (1st visit ~60 minutes, subsequent visits 15-45 minutes)
  • No anesthesia
  • No incisions or reconstruction needed; usually no activity limitation.
  • Potential for less scarring, bleeding
  • Treatment results in skin inflammation with redness and swelling at the treatment site
  • Low risk of developing painful ulcerations, which are treated with local wound care
  • Low risk of radiation treatment causing new skin cancer development in 2-4 decades


  • Reserved for few patients that are not candidates for surgery or radiation therapy
  • Topical therapies - may require several weeks of application
  • Side effects of pain, redness - some patients stop treatment 61-84% cure rates


You and your surgeon will take all factors into consideration and choose the treatment option that best meets your objectives.