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A diagnosis of either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma cancer can be frightening. The first step to easing worry is to become aware of your treatment options. Basal cell carcinoma, or BCC, and squamous cell carcinoma, SCC, are classified as non-melanoma skin cancers. They account for 96% of all diagnosed skin cancers. Luckily, both can usually be treated with surgical procedures. BCC and SCC are identified based on the cells from which they originate. BCC tumors grow from the deepest layer of the epidermis, the stratum basalis, while SCCs arise from cells above the basal layer. Although they take different forms, non-melanoma skin cancers are usually treated in similar ways. One of the most common procedures for removing a tumor is called curettage and electrodesiccation. The procedure begins by scraping a tumor with a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette. Then an electric needle burns the remaining cancer cells. Usually 3 cycles of curettage and electrodesiccation are performed during the treatment. Another option for removing non-melanoma tumors is excision. This is done by surgically removing a tumor and a patch of skin around it. After excision, the doctor will examine the removed skin to ensure that the cancer has been entirely removed. A doctor may also choose to freeze a cancerous tumor with liquid nitrogen. This procedure - known as cryosurgery - results in the sloughing away of damaged cells, allowing healthy skin to grow. Another effective treatment for non-melanoma cancers is Mohs micrographic surgery. Layers of skin are removed one at a time and examined under a microscope until it is ensured that the entire tumor has been removed. Mohs surgery is not for everyone. It is an intense, lengthy operation that requires a highly specialized surgeon. However, the surgery spares as much skin as possible and has the highest reported five-year cure rate for both BCC and SCC. While surgical procedures are the most common treatment for non-melanoma tumors, there are less invasive methods for removing cancerous cells. One of them, photodynamic therapy, destroys affected cells using a combination of medicine and a light source. When undergoing photodynamic therapy, a patient will start by applying a topical medication. Several hours later, a dermatologist treats the affected area with a light source. The interaction of the medicine and the light causes affected cells to die and peel away. Another method of treatment is a topical cream called Imiquimod. This cream is only approved to treat BCC tumors and pre-cancerous lesions called actinic keratoses. Imiquimod modifies the skin's immune system, encouraging it to reject the sun-damaged cells. There are many effective treatments for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Please talk to your dermatologist about the advantages and disadvantages of each. Want to learn more? Check out other videos and sources on this site for more information.