Benign and malignant lesions

What they are:

A benign lesion is non-cancerous. It will not spread abnormal cells, and should not threaten your health. However, these lesions may still need to be surgically removed due to location, size, and appearance. 

A malignant lesion, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma, has been biopsied and determined cancerous. It is characterized by progressive and uncontrolled growth. This kind of lesion is dangerous and needs to be surgically removed. 


How a lesion is removed depends on the type of lesion and where it is located.

Surgical excision:
This is a simple form of plastic surgery. The lesion and area around it are numbed with an anesthetic, and the doctor makes an incision through the full three layers of your skin—the epidermis, dermis, and the subcutaneous fat. 

The doctor removes the specimen, then pulls the edges of the wound together using plastic surgery techniques. This provides a better cosmetic end result (as opposed to methods using scraping or burning). The cure rate for this technique is very high. 

Electrodessication and Curettage (Scraping and burning):
For basal cell carcinomas that are superficial and confined to the epidermis, or top layer of the skin, one of the most effective treatments is electrodessication and curettage, which is a technique involving scraping and burning. This procedure is relatively quick and easy, but can only be used on basal cell lesions on the arms, legs, and trunk. It does leave a small, pale scar.