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Non-melanoma skin cancer

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Cryosurgery for non-melanoma skin cancer

Cryosurgery is a procedure that destroys cancer cells by freezing them. It can also be used to treat some precancerous conditions. For non-melanoma skin cancer, cryosurgery may be used to treat:

  • precancerous conditions, such as actinic keratosis
  • small, superficial, well-defined skin cancers (basal cell carcinomas in particular)

Liquid nitrogen is sprayed on the cancer cells to freeze them. It can be painful when the nitrogen is applied. The area is allowed to thaw and then is frozen again. The freeze-thaw cycle may need to be repeated a few times. Cryosurgery is used to destroy cancer cells while avoiding nearby healthy cells. After treatment, the person may feel an aching or throbbing sensation in the area.

See a list of questions to ask your doctor about cryosurgery.

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