Treatments & Procedures

Treating Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Overview

Our skin naturally produces new skin cells when older ones become damaged or die. If the new skin cells, including abnormal cells, do not grow or multiply in a controlled way, skin cancer can develop.

Luckily, many cases of skin cancer can be cured if they are found early and treated immediately. Being aware of any changes in your skin’s appearance and having them checked out by a doctor is key to catching the disease in its early stages.

You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by taking steps to protect your skin. Learn more about the signs of skin cancer, and how you can prevent it, here.

How is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?

If you have noticed any changes in your skin, your doctor will first discuss them with you in detail. This includes changes to moles, skin spots, freckles, or any new growths on the skin. The doctor will then perform a full body examination, looking at every area of skin on your body. If your doctor thinks a lesion may be suspicious, then they may perform a biopsy. A biopsy involves removing a sample of skin tissue so that it can be examined under a microscope. This investigation will confirm whether or not it is cancer, and which type of skin cancer it is.

New technologies have emerged which can help in the diagnosis of skin cancer without the need for biopsies. A technique called dermoscopy can be offered to some patients, which involves the use of a powerful magnifying lens and lighting system, allowing doctors to examine lesions closely on the skin.

How is Skin Cancer Treated?

The treatment given will depend on the type of skin cancer and the stage of the cancer. Sometimes, if the skin cancer is small and hasn’t spread beyond the skin’s surface, a biopsy can remove it. If this isn’t possible, then other treatments may be needed, including:


Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze skin cancer. The dead cells shed after treatment. Cryotherapy is used to treat skin cancers that haven’t spread beyond the skin’s surface, as well as precancerous lesions such as actinic keratosis.

Excisional Surgery

This procedure involves removing the cancer as well as some of the surrounding healthy skin to make sure all the cancer has been removed.

Mohs Surgery

This procedure involves removing visible cancerous tissue first, then a layer of skin cancer cells. This layer is immediately examined for cancerous cells, then another layer is removed and checked again. This procedure is repeated until no more cancerous cells are visible. The aim of treatment is to save as much healthy tissue as possible, so the technique is used for skin cancers on important or sensitive areas such as the ears, eyelids, forehead, lips, scalp, fingers, or genitals. Mohs surgery is usually a treatment for basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer.

Curettage and Electrodesiccation

Using a sharp, looped edge instrument, the cancerous cells are removed by scraping across the tumor. An electric needle then treats the area to destroy any remaining cancerous cells. This procedure is used to treat basal cell and squamous cell cancers, as well as precancerous skin tumors.


Medication is given to kill cancerous cells. It can be applied directly onto the skin if the cancer is only on the skin’s top layer. If the cancer has spread beyond the skin’s surface, chemotherapy can also be given intravenously (directly into the vein) or as a tablet.


Medication is given which uses your body’s own immune system to kill cancerous cells.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation energy beams are directed at the cancerous skin cells to kill them or to stop them dividing and growing.

Photodynamic Therapy

This treatment involves coating the skin with medication and using a blue or red fluorescent light which activates the medication. Photodynamic therapy can destroy precancerous cells without harming normal cells.

Advanced Treatment for Skin Cancer

Nowadays, there are many advanced treatment options available for people diagnosed with skin cancer, which are significantly contributing to better outcomes.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Oncology Institute offers advanced treatments delivered by experts in skin cancer. With a collaborative approach to care, our dermatologists, Surgical, Medical and Radiation Oncologists, alongside many other specialists work together to provide the very best care. Including meeting weekly to discuss each patient case as a multidisciplinary team to ensure a treatment plan is tailored treatment to each patient's unique needs.

© Copyright 2017 Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala Healthcare, and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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