Kenneth Beer, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist in Palm Beach, Fla., and the director of, an online skincare company. He is also the director of The Cosmetic Bootcamp, which trains physicians in best practices for cosmetic medicine. Dr. Beer is an instructor in dermatology at the University of Miami, and he is an A.B. Duke Scholar at Duke University. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and received his dermatology and dermatophathology training at the University of Chicago. Visit Dr. Beer's office at

Radiation vs. Surgery Merits

Monday, 20 September 2010 12:34 PM

Question: I have recently had a biopsy on a suspected cancer on the tip of my nose. The dermatologist suggests either surgery or radiation treatments. Which would be best, or is there any difference?

Dr. Beer’s Answer:

There are lots of differences and it is important to understand them. The biggest is that cutting it out offers you the opportunity to examine the edges and be sure that there is no tumor at the margin. This is not a guarantee that it won’t come back but it is certainly helpful.

However, cutting will leave a scar. The type of scar depends on how deep, wide, and long the cancer is. It is impossible for someone to remove a piece of skin and repair the hole without a scar. Dermatologic surgeons are very good at this, as are plastic surgeons, and both can discuss ways to minimize scarring.

Radiation can treat skin cancers and may leave less scarring. However, one can have radiation burns that take some time to heal, changes in the skin that are unsightly, and (most importantly) you won’t have any way to examine that edges of the tissue to know whether the cancer is out.

© HealthDay

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