Curettage and Electrosurgery for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
Surgery Overview Back to top
Curettage is the process of scraping skin with a spoon-shaped instrument (curette) to remove skin tissue. Electrosurgery is the burning of skin tissue with an electric current that runs through a metal instrument or needle. Electrosurgery may be done after curettage to control bleeding and destroy any remaining cancer cells. The wound is then covered with an antibiotic dressing.
What To Expect After Surgery Back to top
Recovery may take 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the extent of surgery. Keep the wound clean and dry. A scab will form over the area.
Why It Is Done Back to top
Curettage and electrosurgery are done to:
How Well It Works Back to top
Treatment with curettage and electrosurgery for skin cancer has a cure rate of nearly 99 out of 100 for basal cell cancer that is less than 1 cm (0.4 in.) wide. The cure rate is about 84 out of 100 if the cancer is larger than 2 cm (0.8 in.) wide. 1 This procedure is most effective on new skin cancers. It is less successful for recurrent skin cancers where scar tissue has developed.
Risks Back to top
Risks of using curettage and electrosurgery for skin cancer include:
- Skin changes, such as scarred or tight skin, slightly indented or raised skin, or change in skin color to red or white.
- Recurrence of skin cancer.
What To Think About Back to top
Curettage and electrosurgery is a common treatment method for a basal cell carcinoma less than 5 mm (0.2 in.) in diameter.
References Back to top
Credits Back to top
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology|
|Last Revised||October 2, 2012|
Last Revised: October 2, 2012
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