Non-melanoma cancer treatment and diagnosis

Non-melanoma cancer

Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer type in the U.S. Non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) are a group of skin cancers that develop in the upper layers of your skin. Although there are several types of NMSC, there are two main types: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). BCC makes up around 80% of all non-melanoma skin cancer cases whereas SCC is less common.

Chapter 1

Diagnostics

NMSCs are usually diagnosed by a biopsy. In some instances, a biopsy can remove all the cancer tissue and no further treatment is required. If necessary, imaging scans such as CT and MRI may be used for a diagnosis. You may also have other advanced tests to assess how well your treatment is working.

Find your nearest GenesisCare center to find out what diagnostic tests and scans are available in your local area. Whatever your outcome, our expert team will support you throughout your treatment journey.

Despite the high occurrence of non-melanoma skin cancers, almost all can be successfully treated and unlike many other cancers, there’s a low risk of NMSC spreading to other parts of the body. This means early diagnosis and expert treatment can result in a positive outcome for most people.

At GenesisCare, we specialize in the latest technologies and continually evaluate the latest skin cancer treatments so we can offer the most up-to-date options to every patient without delay. We offer treatments that can effectively improve your skin cancer prognosis, manage the disease and help minimize any discomfort and pain. These include surgery, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy. You and your doctor will work together to decide on the most appropriate treatment plan for you, tailored to your needs.

Chapter 2

Surgery

We work with expert teams of surgeons who are specially trained in the removal of tumors containing cancerous and benign (non-cancerous) cells. There are different procedures used for skin cancer surgery and your surgeon will recommend the most appropriate one for you depending on what type of skin cancer you have and how advanced it is.

Cryosurgery (cryotherapy)

Cryosurgery uses extreme cold substances (usually liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide) to freeze and destroy small BCCs and SCCs. This often performed by applying a cold gas on the tumor, or placing a very cold probe is against the tumor. The cold substances freeze the tumor site which then thaws and is frozen again. This may be repeated two or three times during the same treatment session.

Curettage and electrodesiccation

During this procedure, your surgeon removes the cancer by scraping away layers of cancer cells using an instrument with a circular blade, called a curette. Afte this, an electric needle is used to destroy any remaining cancer cells. The process is then often repeated once or twice during the same treatment session.

Excisional surgery

Excisional surgery involves cutting out the cancerous tissue and a surrounding margin of healthy skin. This procedure is performed under local anesthetic and the sample is looked at under a microscope after to ensure no cancer cells were left behind at the edges of the skin that was removed.

Mohs surgery

Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, is a technique that causes minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue and only removes the skin containing the cancer. The visible tumor is removed and your surgeon will then remove a layer of the skin and analyze it to see if it contains any cancerous cells. This process is continued layer-by-layer until no more cancer cells are found.

Chapter 3

Radiation therapy

At GenesisCare we specialize in advanced radiation therapy techniques that are designed to be effective and minimize the side effects you’ll experience.

Our latest-generation machines are built to deliver highly targeted radiation beams. The accuracy of these treatments, together with the expertise of our teams, means that we can often complete a course of radiation therapy in a shorter amount of time - so you can spend more time doing the things you love.

The type of skin cancer treatment your radiation oncologist recommends will depend on your diagnosis, if the cancer has spread to other parts of your body, your general health and personal preferences.

Radiation therapy for skin cancer

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT)

At GenesisCare our non-melanoma skin cancer treatments include external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), where radiation is delivered from outside the body, and internal radiation therapy (IRT), where the radiation dose is given via a source implanted within the body.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)

IMRT is an advanced external beam radiation therapy technique where the beams of radiation are precisely shaped to exactly match your tumor and damage to adjacent healthy tissues is limited.

Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT)

VMAT is an advanced form of IMRT that directs beams of radiation in an arc across the treatment area. VMAT very accurately target areas of cancer and can be used to give a homogenous dose to large treatment areas while sparing deep tissue from toxicity.

High-dose rate brachytherapy

HDR brachytherapy is an internal radiation therapy that delivers radioactive pellets to the tumor site through small plastic tubes called catheters or an implant. This is usually done in one session and is removed after 20 minutes.

Chapter 4

Medical oncology

At GenesisCare, we offer various drug therapies and a wide range of the latest anti-cancer drugs for skin cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Chemotherapy for NMSCs

Chemotherapy refers to drugs that destroy cancer cells. Our expert teams may recommend chemotherapy before or after other treatments, or on its own. It can be applied as a cream directly onto the skin (topical chemotherapy), or administered intravenously or in the form of a tablet.

The type of chemotherapy you’ll receive will also depend on how advanced your skin cancer is. If you have skin cancer that has spread to other parts of your body, chemotherapy can help control its growth, relieve symptoms and improve your skin cancer prognosis.

Red light treatment for NMSCs

Red light treatment, or photodynamic therapy (PDT), is a type of chemotherapy. These drugs are activated by a light source such as a laser. When the light source is focused on the tumor, the drugs are triggered and kill the cancer cells. It is only used for early stage skin cancer.

Targeted therapy for NMSCs

As researchers know more about skin cancer, they have developed new treatments that can specifically target it. We use targeted therapy to seek and attack cellular activity that the cancer depends on to survive and grow. They are used depending on the specific genetic make up of your cancer. Types of targeted therapy for skin cancer include:

  • Cancer growth inhibitors – some advanced or recurrent basal cell carcinomas have abnormal proteins that help the cancer grow. Cancer growth inhibitors target these proteins to shrink the tumor
  • EGFR inhibitors – squamous cell skin cancer cells can have too much of the EGFR protein which helps them grow. EGFR inhibitors target this protein and can shrink the cancer

Immunotherapy for NMSCs

Immunotherapy helps your body’s own immune system to recognize and fight the cancer. It can be used to treat advanced squamous cell carcinomas. Checkpoint inhibitors are an effective immunotherapy against these cancers and they work by blocking the signals that stop the immune system from attacking the cancerous cells.

Chapter 5

Why choose GenesisCare?

People choose GenesisCare so they can access the latest technologies, effective treatments and personalized care that’s tailored to them without delay.

Cancer treatment and care is constantly evolving and we offer the world’s latest evidence-based treatments that have been shown to benefit patients. By working together closely, our multidisciplinary teams of oncologists, surgeons, radiation therapists and other healthcare specialists provide care that’s focused on you, not just your cancer.

We know that for many people, cancer is a life-changing experience and our goal is to help you through it in the most positive way possible. That’s why as well as offering exceptional cancer treatments, we also provide you with support and resources for your cancer journey - including advice about nutrition and exercise, expert help for managing side effects and information on local support groups.

Our centers are conveniently located throughout the United States, and each location has a dedicated Office Financial Counselor on hand to help you with your paperwork and answer your questions. We accept most insurance plans as well as Medicare Part B, which covers physician services, including radiation therapy.