A recent case series review appearing in the November/December issue of the Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery presents evidence that laser surgery for skin cancer may be an effective treatment for lentigo maligna, a pre-cancerous lesion commonly found on the head and neck regions.
Lentigo maligna, a precursor to melanoma, typically appears as a pigmented lesion on skin areas with high levels of sun exposure. It is a common condition that most frequently affects older adults, 40 years of age and older. Lentigo maligna often progresses very slowly, but if left untreated, may develop into a malignant tumor.
In most cases, plastic surgeons will opt for a surgical removal of the lesion because it presents the lowest rates of reoccurrence; however, due to location and size, a complete removal may prove to be difficult and alternative treatments such as radiation or laser therapy may be utilized.
Data compiled over the course of nearly 10 years by Hamei Lee, MD and other researchers at the University of Western Ontario suggest that laser surgery for skin cancer may be present a lower reoccurrence rate than traditional radiation therapy.
The team of researchers evaluated the rate of reoccurrence in 73 patients aged 39 to 93, choosing to treat their lentigo maligna lesions with surgery, radiation therapy or carbon dioxide laser ablation. The results were as follows: Surgery patients saw a 4.2% rate of reoccurrence, radiation therapy patients had a 29% rate of reoccurrence and laser ablation patients experienced a 6.7% rate of reoccurrence.
The results according to Lee and colleagues were not statistically significant and additional research will be necessary. Lee and colleagues did, however, point out that laser surgery for skin cancer may be “advantageous because it treats large lesions in cosmetically sensitive regions of the head and neck in a short period, with minimal morbidity.”
Learn more about the advantages of laser surgery for skin cancer in New Haven, Connecticut.