Curettage and Desiccation for Skin Cancer

In curettage and desiccation, superficial, uncomplicated skin cancers are removed by scraping the affected area using a spoon-shaped instrument known as a curette. After it has been scraped, the wound typically is cauterized to increase the likelihood for successful treatment and to minimize bleeding.

What you should know about curettage and desiccation

The treatment area is numbed with a local anesthetic. A curette is then used to remove abnormal cells by scraping the skin. Dessication, which uses small bursts of electrical current to cauterize tissue, is then performed. The wound is typically is allowed to heal without sutures.

Why choose curettage and desiccation

Curettage and desiccation often is effective on small, superficial basal and squamous cell carcinomas with well-defined borders. It often is used on the trunk and other areas of the body where the scars introduced by this treatment alternative will not be objectionable.

Curettage and desiccation also is a good choice for patients who cannot tolerate more involved surgical procedures. With a high cure rate in the treatment of carefully selected skin cancers, this treatment method is efficient and cost-effective.

Possible risks

As with any skin cancer treatment, there are risks associated with curettage and desiccation, though they are minimized in the hands of a qualified ASDS dermatologist. Risks include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Crusting
  • Cancer recurrence
  • The need for additional tumor treatments