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Skin Cancer Surgery - Curettage and cautery

For early skin cancers especially in the body and limbs, your dermatologist may recommend 'curetage and cautery'.
Curettage and cautery is an 'old-fashioned' but very effective treatment for certain early skin cancers.

Local anaesthetic is used. The dermatologist scrapes the skin cancer from the surface with a special 'scoop' with the aim of removing cancerous cells but leaving as much of the normal surrounding skin intact. To increase the cure rate, curetted skin is carefully burnt off with a hot wire (cautery).

The area is left to heal like a superficial open wound (much like a graze) and tends to heal over in two to three weeks. A small permanent flat white scar (about the same size as the treated skin cancer) tends to result.

For early and superficial skin cancers, the cure rate of this old-fashioned technique, compared to newer and more complex forms of surgery as well as surgery-free treatments, tends to be just as good.

Even though compared to surgery and surgery-free treatment, curettage tends to leave somewhat more of a mark and takes somewhat longer to heal, curettage is a quick and (cost) effective treatment alternative for many early skin cancers.

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