- How are basal and squamous cell skin cancers treated?
- Surgery for basal and squamous cell skin cancers
- Other forms of local therapy for basal and squamous cell skin cancers
- Radiation therapy for basal and squamous cell skin cancers
- Systemic chemotherapy for basal and squamous cell skin cancers
- Targeted therapy for basal and squamous cell skin cancers
- Clinical trials for basal and squamous cell skin cancers
- Complementary and alternative therapies for basal and squamous cell skin cancers
- Treating basal cell carcinoma
- Treating squamous cell carcinoma of the skin
- Treating actinic keratosis
- Treating Bowen disease
- Treating Merkel cell carcinoma
- More treatment information for basal and squamous cell skin cancers
How are basal and squamous cell skin cancers treated?
This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don't hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.
General treatment information
If you have been diagnosed with a non-melanoma skin cancer, your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. Depending on your situation, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team. Many basal and squamous cell cancers (as well as pre-cancers) are treated by dermatologists – doctors who specialize in treating skin diseases. If the cancer is more advanced, you may be treated by another type of doctor, such as a surgical oncologist, medical oncologist, or radiation oncologist.
Based on the stage of the cancer and other factors, your treatment options may include:
Fortunately, most basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas can be cured with fairly minor surgery or other types of local treatments.
The treatments described in the next few sections are those used for actinic keratosis, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and/or Merkel cell carcinoma. Other skin cancers, such as melanoma, lymphoma of the skin, Kaposi sarcoma, and other sarcomas are treated differently and are discussed in separate documents.
Last Medical Review: 09/20/2012
Last Revised: 01/17/2013