For some early skin cancers, non-surgical treatment is a valid option. These include:

Photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) involves applying a special cream to the skin lesion, which is then covered with plastic wrap and a dressing for a few hours to absorb into the skin. The skin is then exposed to light which activates the cream, killing the lesion. This can be used for solar keratoses (sunspots) and early superficial skin cancers (intraepithelial carcinomas/Bowen’s disease and some BCCs). It has a cure rate of up to 90% for early skin cancers.


Cryotherapy involves freezing the skin lesion with liquid nitrogen for a few seconds, killing the spot. It is commonly used for sunspots, but can also be used to treat small, superficial skin cancers. However, it is not as effective as other treatment options.

Topical creams

Topical creams involves using special creams on the skin, such as 5-Fluorouracil, Imiquimod, Ingenol mebutate and Diclofenac sodium. They work by inducing inflammation in the skin lesion, which causes the body’s immune system to destroy the damaged skin cancer cells. These creams are only used for superficial skin cancers or sunspots.