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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Curettage and Electrosurgery for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
Curettage is the process of scraping skin with a spoon-shaped instrument (curette) to remove skin tissue. Electrosurgery is the burning of skin tissue with an electric current that runs through a metal instrument or needle. Electrosurgery may be done after curettage to control bleeding and destroy any remaining cancer cells. The wound is then covered with an antibiotic dressing.
The skin is numbed with a local anesthetic before the procedure. Curettage and electrosurgery may be repeated once or twice or may be combined with other procedures, such as cryosurgery.
Recovery may take 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the extent of surgery. Keep the wound clean and dry. A scab will form over the area.
Curettage and electrosurgery are done to:
Treatment with curettage and electrosurgery for skin cancer has a cure rate of nearly 99 out of 100 for basal cell cancer that is less than 1 cm (0.4 in.) wide. The cure rate is about 84 out of 100 if the cancer is larger than 2 cm (0.8 in.) wide.footnote 1 This procedure is most effective on new skin cancers. It is less successful for recurrent skin cancers where scar tissue has developed.
Risks of using curettage and electrosurgery for skin cancer include:
Curettage and electrosurgery is a common treatment method for a basal cell carcinoma less than 5 mm (0.2 in.) in diameter.
Current as of
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical ReviewE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAmy McMichael MD - Dermatology
Carucci JA, et al. (2012). Basal cell carcinoma. In LA Goldman et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1294–1303. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Current as of:
December 19, 2018
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Amy McMichael MD - Dermatology
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