Skip to Content
Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Curettage and Electrosurgery for Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer
Curettage is the process of scraping skin with a spoon-shaped
instrument (curette) to remove skin tissue. Electrosurgery is the burning of skin
tissue with an electric current that runs through a metal instrument or needle.
Electrosurgery may be done after curettage to control bleeding and destroy any
remaining cancer cells. The wound is then covered with an antibiotic
The skin is numbed with a
local anesthetic before the procedure. Curettage and
electrosurgery may be repeated once or twice or may be combined with other
procedures, such as
Recovery may take 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the extent of surgery.
Keep the wound clean and dry. A scab will form over the area.
Curettage and electrosurgery are done to:
Treatment with curettage and electrosurgery for skin cancer has
a cure rate of nearly 99 out of 100 for basal cell cancer that is less than 1 cm (0.4 in.) wide. The cure rate is about 84 out of 100 if the cancer is larger than 2 cm (0.8 in.) wide.footnote 1 This procedure is
most effective on new skin cancers. It is less successful for recurrent skin
cancers where scar tissue has developed.
Risks of using curettage and electrosurgery for skin cancer
Curettage and electrosurgery is a common treatment method for a
basal cell carcinoma less than
5 mm (0.2 in.) in diameter.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Carucci JA, et al. (2012). Basal cell carcinoma. In LA Goldman et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1294–1303. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerAmy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
Current as ofNovember 20, 2015
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Send Us Your Feedback
North Kansas City Hospital