What different skin cancer treatments are there?

Written by: Dr Raj Mallipeddi
Published: | Updated: 22/08/2023
Edited by: Carlota Pano

There are many different types of skin cancer. Its treatment will depend on the various factors which determine the aggressiveness of the cancer, such as the type of tumour and its location on the body.


Thankfully, with early detection and correct treatment, most cancers can be effectively cured. Nowadays, we have many methods. For less serious types, non-surgical treatments such as creams may work, while other cases require surgery.


Dr Raj Mallipeddi, award-winning consultant dermatological surgeon based in London, sheds light on these methods...



Photodynamic therapy


A cream is applied to the affected area, which is then covered with a dressing. After three hours, the dressing is removed and a special light is shone onto the area for around nine minutes. The aim is to destroy the abnormal cells through a chemical reaction while leaving the normal skin intact. The treatment is usually repeated twice, between one and two weeks apart to increase the chance of success. Although there is some discomfort during the procedure due to the heat caused by the reaction, the area normally heals quickly.


Surgical removal


This method is standard practice for most skin cancers. The cancer is removed along with an area of surrounding skin, as there are often tumour cells that cannot be detected with the naked eye, and this increases the chances of complete removal. For melanoma, early surgical removal remains the most effective treatment, although the outcome will depend on a variety of factors, including pathological features such as the thickness of the tumour and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes.


Mohs micrographic surgery


For certain higher risk tumours on the head, Mohs micrographic surgery can be advantageous. It is a precise method of tumour removal involving taking narrow margins of normal skin and mapping the tissue. It is then processed in a special way using horizontal sections allowing the entire margin to be examined. Results are often available within an hour. The Mohs surgeon then analyses the pathology under the microscope to pinpoint where further skin removal is required. This method may reduce the risk of scarring by preserving normal tissue and, in addition lowers the risk of leaving a tumour behind, as the roots are microscopically-traced. For this reason, when applied to appropriate tumours (most commonly, basal cell carcinoma) Mohs surgery has a 99% cure rate.


Radiotherapy treatment for skin cancer


Radiotherapy is an option for when surgery is not appropriate. Radiation is applied to the tumour and destroys the cancer cells by damaging the DNA inside. The problem is that radiation cannot distinguish between normal cells and cancerous cells, so both are affected. However, normal cells are more likely to recover from the damage caused by the procedure. Multiple visits to the hospital are necessary, and the total treatment course can take at least 3 weeks to complete.


Novel treatments for melanoma


Unfortunately, there is still no cure once a melanoma has spread (melanoma metastasis) beyond the skin, however, on-going research continues to search for novel treatments. This includes molecules which block mutations, vaccine therapy which stimulates the body’s immune system allowing it to recognise and attack melanoma cells, and gene therapy which aims to replace the damaged genes in melanoma cells with normal ones. In the future, treatment may be tailored to an individual cancer “gene signature” based on gene expression analysis.



If you require expert diagnosis and treatment for skin cancer, don't hesitate to book an appointment with Dr Raj Mallipeddi via his Top Doctors profile today. 

By Dr Raj Mallipeddi

Dr Raj Mallipeddi is an award-winning consultant dermatological surgeon based in London who specialises in skin cancer, cosmetic dermatology and surgical dermatology alongside Mohs surgery, laser surgery, and photodynamic surgery. He practices privately for HCA Sydney Street Outpatient Centre, Dermatological Surgery, Laser Unit at Guy's Hospital Cancer Centre, and Bupa Cromwell Hospital. He also works for the Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Mallipeddi is well respected in the dermatology and skin cancer field, working in lead roles at top centres in the capital. He is the lead clinician for dermatological surgery and the laser unit at St John's Institute of Dermatology at Guy's Hospital Cancer Centre and was the lead consultant for skin cancer for his NHS trust, seeing referrals from all over the UK. Dr Mallipeddi studied at Imperial College in London where he was awarded an MBBS in 1997. During this time, he also completed an intercalated BSc (Hons) degree in psychology at University College London in 1994. Subsequently, he obtained a Doctor of Medicine higher research degree studying squamous cell carcinoma at King's College London from 2001 to 2003.

Dr Mallipeddi has been professionally recognised as well as by patients. He has been awarded the St John's Dermatological Society registrar prize, the Wooden Curette Award from the British Society for Dermatological Society and named by Marquis (American publisher of directories) as the Who's Who in Healthcare 2009-10. As well as being a highly-qualified professional, Dr Mallipeddi lectures nationally and internationally. He is also heavily involved in medical education as the national curriculum lead for Mohs and Advanced Dermatological Surgery and he has written the "practical procedures" chapter in the "ABC of Dermatology" book. 

He is also widely published, and a pioneer in his field for being one of the only UK doctors who has completed advanced training in Mohs micrographic surgery as certified by the American College of Mohs Surgery. He serves on numerous boards including chair of the UK Mohs micrographic service standards committee and was the past President of the British Society for Dermatological Surgery (2015-2017). Furthermore, he is past president of the St John's Dermatological Society (2021-2022). 

He was a member of the British Association of Dermatologists' (BAD) guideline committees for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and photodynamic therapy and has helped to develop important national guidelines.

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

  • Related procedures
  • Laser
    Treatment pigmented lesions
    Platelet-rich plasma
    Dark circles
    Radiofrequency Facelift
    Lifting by radiofrequency
    Hands rejuvenation
    This website uses our own and third-party Cookies to compile information with the aim of improving our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences as well analysing your browsing habits. You can change your settings HERE.