CRYOSURGERY FOR SKIN CANCER

in cryosurgery, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and therefore eliminate early basal and squamous cell carcinomas.

Why choose cryosurgery for skin cancer

Cryosurgery should be considered by patients with medical conditions that complicate the consideration of more invasive surgical methods or for those that have a history of bleeding problems. The procedure is easy to perform, is minimally invasive and has a quick recovery time.

What you should know about cryosurgery for skin cancer

During this in-office procedure, the doctor applies liquid nitrogen using a cotton swab or a spray device. Occasionally, the doctor will insert a needle containing a thermometer into the treatment area to ensure it has been sufficiently cooled to allow tumor eradication. The goal of treatment is to freeze the skin cancer quickly and allow it to slowly thaw to cause maximum destruction to the targeted tumor. In some cases, more than one application of liquid nitrogen may be necessary.

How to prepare for the procedure

Before the procedure, an ASDS dermatologist will review the patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam. This also is the time for the doctor and patient to discuss expectations, potential risks/benefits and outcomes of the procedure.

What to expect after the procedure

Redness, swelling and the formation of a blister can be expected at the treatment site. An over-the-counter pain reliever can often be used to control minor pain. The site should be cleansed three or four times daily while fluid continues to ooze from the wound, usually for five to 14 days until a dry crust forms. The crust will eventually fall off. Healing time for head and neck procedures is four to six weeks. Longer healing times typically are seen for procedures performed on other parts of the body.

Possible risks
As with any treatment, there are risks associated with cryosurgery, though they are minimized in the hands of an ASDS dermatologist. Risks include:

  • Swelling
  • Scarring
  • Temporary numbness
  • Loss of pigmentation and/or hair in the treatment area
  • Bleeding and blisters
  • Healing difficulties
  • Cancer recurrence
  • The need for additional tumor treatments