The main way of both sampling and treating a superficial skin cancer at the same time.

Curettage is a method of scooping out certain types of Skin Cancer under local anaesthetic

What is Curettage?

In dermatological surgery,  Curettage is a method of removing lesions using a curet. Curettage is a widely used method of both treating and sampling superficial skin cancers with minimal scarring.

A curet is a sterile surgical instrument with a curved ending that allows a lesion to be scraped out. The cosmetic outcome is similar to that of a shave excision.

A curet allows a lesion to be scraped out by “feel” whereas a shave involves a flat cut along the base of the lesion.

Curettage is normally combined with Cautery and this is called “Curettage & Cautery”

What is Curettage used for?

Curettage is used for two purposes:

  • Treatment of suspected or known superficial skin cancers (Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma & Intraepithelial Carcinoma), and Hypertrophic or thickened Solar Keratosis. The advantage of curettage over a shave biopsy is that curettage allows a superficial skin cancer to be treated by “feel” rather than blindly as with a shave. On the other hand, skin that has been sampled with curettage consists of lots of tiny fragments of tissue. Therefore, the pathology report may not be as definitive or precise as it is for a single sample taken via a shave biopsy.
  • Treatment of benign skin lesions for cosmetic purposes

What are the risks of Curettage?

Curettage & Cautery is generally considered a low-risk procedure. The risks, though small, are the same as the risks of a formal surgical excision.

It is not always possible to know in advance how deep the curettage procedure will need to be. Deeper procedures will leave a more prominent scar. Smaller and/or superficial curettage procedures typically leave small scars.

Biopsy Techniques

WRITTEN BY: Dr Richard Beatty