Curettage & Desiccation
Curettage and desiccation (C&D) is a common surgical procedure used to treat skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Initially, the area of the skin cancer is anesthetized with lidocaine. Because the skin cancer tissue is abnormal, it is generally softer than the surrounding healthy skin and therefore able to be scraped away with a tool called a curette. Then, electrocautery is used to stop any bleeding and also destroy a small margin of tissue. This process of “scraping” (curettage) and “burning” (cautery) is repeated three times in order to get a small margin of uninvolved tissue surrounding the skin cancer. The procedure leaves you with a wound that heals by granulation which means it heals from the bottom up and the sides in, without stitches. This means it will take longer to heal than a wound that is sutured however a patient does not have the same activity restrictions as a patient who has had a surgical excision. Because the skin cancer is not excised, there are not surgical margins to evaluate under the microscope. Cure rates from curettage and desiccation are very high and are similar to those of excisions.
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