Treatment overview for skin cancer

Treatment for skin cancer

Most people with BCCs or SCCs are cured with treatment. There are a variety of treatments. The one you are offered will depend on:

  • the size of the skin cancer
  • where it is on your body
  • the biopsy results
  • whether you have had skin cancer before
  • your general health and any preferences you have.


Surgery is an important treatment for many skin cancers. It can be done in a variety of ways.


Cryotherapy destroys cancer cells by using liquid nitrogen to freeze them. It is a very quick way of treating small, low-risk skin cancers, such as superficial BCCs.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy uses light sources, combined with a light-sensitive drug (sometimes called a photosensitising agent), to destroy cancer cells.

Chemotherapy cream

A chemotherapy cream containing a drug called 5-Fluorouracil, or 5FU (Efudix®), can be used to treat some early superficial BCCs.

Immunotherapy cream

An immunotherapy cream called imiquimod (Aldara®) can be used to treat some early superficial BCCs.


Radiotherapy can be a very effective treatment for BCCs and SCCs. Radiotherapy may be used instead of surgery. Or you may have it after surgery if there is a risk that some cancer cells may still be present. Sometimes it is used for cancers that have grown into the deeper layers of the skin.

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The cancer registry

In the UK, each country has a cancer registry. It is used to plan and improve health and care services.