If you have certain types of skin cancer or lesions, then you may benefit from cryotherapy. The procedure is usually very quick and easy and can be done right in the office. Cryotherapy isn't for everyone. You may need a more traditional cancer treatment under certain circumstances. If you want to know more about cryotherapy and whether the procedure is right for you, then continue reading.
What Is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is a procedure where liquid nitrogen is used directly on your skin to kill abnormal cells. The doctor sprays nitrogen on the area, lets the skin warm up, and then freezes it again. The doctor repeats the process if you have more than one affected area. This procedure is highly effective and has been used to treat a variety of superficial skin problems.
What Cancers and Lesions Benefit from Cryotherapy?
Not all skin cancers benefit from cryotherapy. Generally, superficial skin cancers and lesions are the best candidates for the procedure. It's mostly used to treat benign non-melanoma skin cancers. But, it is also used to treat precancerous cells called actinic keratoses. These cells are often itchy and painful, and they mimic other skin conditions, so a doctor's diagnosis is crucial.
Some doctors may use this procedure for mostly superficial and very thin skin cancers. People with Bowen's disease and thin basal cell carcinoma can benefit from this procedure. The cancers must have a well-defined border, making them easier to target and treat. If your cancer has an irregular shape and penetrates several layers of skin, you may need another type of surgery.
What Are the Side Effects of Cryotherapy?
You may experience significant pain during the procedure, but it is temporary. Your doctor may place a topical anesthetic on your skin before applying the nitrogen. In some rare cases, you may notice some long-term or permanent discoloration. A few people experience infections, prolonged pain, and some temporary swelling.
What Are the Benefits of Cryotherapy?
The main benefits of cryotherapy are that it's fast and that it has few complications. There is no cutting involved, which means less risk of infection. It is also highly targeted and doesn't affect other parts of the body. Most people recover quickly and can return to their normal activities soon afterward.
No hospitalization is needed after the procedure unless you experience a rare complication. You will be able to leave the doctor's office on the same day. Your doctor will give you aftercare instructions. You may need to take extra precautions until your skin heals. The procedure is usually successful, and you won't need treatment again unless another lesion shows up elsewhere. For more information about cryotherapy for skin cancer, talk to your oncologist.
To learn more about your options, contact a cancer treatment center.