Curettage and Electrodesiccation

What is Curettage and Electrodesiccation?

Curettage and Electrodesiccation (C&E or scrape and burn) is a medical procedure to remove certain types of skin cancers. It involves scraping away the cancerous tissue and using an electrical current to dry out and coagulate the tissue.

What does Curettage and Electrodesiccation Treat?

C&E treats superficial basal cell cancers and squamous cell cancers. These cancers are thin, and relatively small, with well-defined borders.

What Happens During an Appointment?

The procedure is performed in-office and should take less than one hour. The tissue around the cancer will be numbed using a local anesthetic, injected by needle, so you’ll feel a prick. Once you’re numb, the surgeon will scrape the cancer with a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette. The surgeon will then use a needle-like metal tip with an electric current to dry out the tissue (electrodesiccation). You will be able to drive yourself home after your appointment.

Are there any Complications?

You will have a wound after undergoing C&E, so you must care for it properly to ensure you don’t experience complications from healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions after your appointment, but you’ll most likely be required to cover the wound with ointment and a bandage and leave that in place for 24 to 48 hours. Then, you’ll wash around the wound with clean water twice a day and then cover it with petroleum jelly and a non-stick bandage until it is sufficiently healed. Do not use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol.

What Happens After my Appointment?

The tissue removed will be sent to a lab, where a pathologist will examine it under a microscope to confirm that it is cancerous and determine if it is high-risk. According to the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, C&E cures between 91% and 97% of low-risk basal cell carcinoma and 96% of low-risk squamous cell carcinoma. In some cases, the procedure might have to be repeated to ensure all the cancerous cells are removed.

Is Curettage and Electrodesiccation Right for Me?

C&E works best on cancers that are well-defined and low-risk, meaning they have not grown too deeply into the skin. The cancer’s location is also a consideration, because C&E leaves a small scar. So, if your cancer is high-risk or located in an area like your face, another procedure like Mohs Surgery might be a better option. The best way to decide if C&E is an option for you is to first schedule a free consultation with one of our specialists at Coastal Dermatology & Surgery Center, so contact our office today.