Skin Cancer

Of the non-melanoma skin cancers, the world's most common is basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma usually grows slowly in the basal cells that line the deepest layer of the epidermis, and rarely metastasizes. It can, however, cause significant destruction and disfigurement to the skin if neglected.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the next most common after basal cell carcinoma. Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is slow-growing. It attacks the squamous cells that make up the top layer of the epidermis. Though unlikely, squamous cell carcinomas can metastasize and even cause death. Individuals with a previous diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma are at higher risk for contracting squamous cell carcinoma.

For information on melanoma, another skin cancer, please refer to melanoma surgery procedural information.

Skin Cancer Risk Factors:

  • UVR (ultraviolet radiation) exposure
  • Chemical carcinogens exposure
  • Immunosuppression
  • Infections
  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Fair skin, blonde or red hair, light-colored eyes
  • Chronic inflammation

Indications for Skin Cancer Treatment

If you have received a diagnosis of skin cancer that has been confirmed by biopsy, you may be a good candidate for treatment with Dr. Morse.

Skin Cancer Surgery with Dr. Morse

A surgical approach to basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma may involve curettage, surgical excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, radiation therapy, or cryotherapy.


Dr. Morse will use scrapes away the cancer with a curette, then electricity to destroy any remaining cancer cells. The heat produced by an electrocautery needle destroys the remaining tumor.

Surgical excision

After numbing the area with local anesthesia, Dr. Morse will use a scalpel to remove the tumor along with a surrounding border of normal skin. He then sutures the skin around the surgical site. The excised tissue is sent to the laboratory for microscopic examination to verify that all the malignant cells have been removed.

Mohs micrographic surgery

Once local anesthesia has been applied, Dr. Morse makes a first-level incision to gather a tissue sample to analyze under a microscope. He then excises excises the melanoma layer by layer until only healthy tissue remains.

Radiation therapy

This approach is generally used for tumors surgically untreatable. X-ray beams are directed at the tumor, a procedure that must be repeated several times each week for a few weeks. Radiation therapy is used in cases in which cancer has spread to organs or lymph nodes or for tumors untreatable with surgery.


During cryotherapy, the cancerous tissue is destroyed by freezing it with liquid nitrogen. The procedure may be repeated at the same session to ensure total destruction of malignant cells.

What to Expect After Surgery

With patients of Mohs surgery, only minor discomfort is expected. You may experience some mild bruising and swelling. The wound may require daily care at home; if this is the case, Dr. Morse will review the post-operative instructions with you in detail. Other surgical approaches to skin cancer require varying degrees and types of care. In most cases, you will be instructed on how to care for your bandages and dressings. Dr. Morse may also schedule follow-up visits with you so that he can monitor your recovery.

To learn more about skin cancer surgery and treatment, contact the office of reconstructive surgeon Dr. Martin Morse.