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Non-melanoma skin cancer care


Allina Health provides complete skin cancer care, which includes the prevention, detection, and treatment of skin cancer. Our dedicated team of health care providers will work closely with you to ensure your care is tailored to your needs to help you achieve optimal health and healing. 

The two primary types of non-melanoma skin cancer are: 

  • Basal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of skin cancer that may look like red patches, pink growths, open sores or even shiny bumps on the skin. At first, they are often asymptomatic, but eventually they can become or sore or bleed easily. Basal cell skin cancer is slow growing and fully treatable. 

  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This is the second most common type of skin cancer. It can appear as a red scaly patch or growing bump. It could feel sore or bleed easily. Most squamous cell skin cancers are curable when found early. 

These types of cancer occur when skin cells are damaged -- most often due to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (such as the sun or indoor tanning).  

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Non-melanoma skin cancer care at Allina Health

At Allina Health, we work closely with you from diagnosis of skin cancer to treatment and recovery. Your highly experienced team of specialists will provide the best possible care.  

During your care, we want you to be involved every step of the way, right from day one. To make sure this happens, we give you the tools to take control of your care. One example is the  Allina Health account, an online patient portal so you can track your appointments, review your test results and more. 

Diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancer

To get started, you will have a physical exam by your health care provider, where you will talk about your health history and family history. During this exam, your provider will look at your skin for signs of skin cancer. 

If skin cancer is suspected, your provider will perform a biopsy to take a small sample of the area in question to check for cancer cells.  

At Allina Health, your health care team will work closely with you to determine the best type of treatment for your skin cancer. 

Treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer

There are several ways to treat non-melanoma skin cancer. The treatment that is right for you will depend on the type of skin cancer that is diagnosed. Treatment options include:  

  • Excision: use of a sharp instrument (scalpel) to remove the skin cancer, going around the area to ensure that all the skin cancer cells are removed. 

  • Electrodessication and Curettage (ED&C): a procedure for removal of cancer in the top layer of the skin where the skin is “scraped” using a curette and “burned” using electrocautery to ensure the top layer of skin that contains the skin cancer is removed 

  • Mohs surgery: removal of cancer tissue one thin layer at a time until all the cancer tissue has been removed. Very little normal tissue is removed during this surgery. This procedure is commonly used for cancer that has a high risk for coming back again, has returned after being treated or is found in areas such as the head, neck, hands and feet. 

How to prepare for your first visit

Often, people start by seeing their primary care provider. If your provider suspects non-melanoma skin cancer, they will refer you to a dermatologist. Questions to ask your health care team: 

  • How treatable is non-melanoma skin cancer? 

  • What is the most common/recommended treatment for my non-melanoma skin cancer? 

  • How will treatment affect my daily life? 

  • Does non-melanoma skin cancer spread? 

  • Can my non-melanoma skin cancer be cured? 

  • What support resources are available to help me? 

  • Whom should I call if I have questions after I leave the office? 

Related links

Source: Allina Health Cancer Institute
Reviewed by: Justin Baker, MD

First published: 6/3/2019
Last reviewed: 6/3/2019