Skin Cancer Treatment
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and involves abnormal growths of skin cells that can form anywhere on the body, but most frequently appear on skin that is exposed to the sun. There are more than a million new cases of skin cancer in the US each year. Although most cases of skin cancer can be successfully treated, it is still important to keep skin safe and healthy and try to prevent this disease.
There are three major types of skin cancer that affect associated layers of the skin. These major types are:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma affects the squamous cells, which are just below the outer surface of the skin and serve as the inner lining.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma affects the basal cells, which lay under the squamous cells and basal cells are responsible for producing new skin cells.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and affects the melanocytes, which are the skin cells that produce melanin, a pigment designed to protect the skin for UV light.
Everyday, skin cells die and new ones form to replace them in a process controlled by DNA. Skin cancer can form when this process does not work properly because of damage to DNA. New cells may form when they are not needed or older cells may not die. This can cause a growth of tissue known as a tumor. DNA damage is often a result of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning lamps. Since skin cancer can sometimes affect areas not exposed to the sun, heredity may also be a factor.
Certain factors, such as fair skin, moles, a weakened immune system and age, certain medications can also increase the risk of skin cancer.
Signs and Symptoms
Skin cancer can often be identified as a new or changed growth on the skin that may often occur on the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands or legs. The appearance of the growth depends on the type of cancer, but can appear as:
- Pearly or waxy bump
- Flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
- Firm, red nodule
- Crusted, flat lesion
- Large brown spot with darker speckles
- Mole that changes shape or color
- Shiny, firm bumps
It is important to see your dermatologist if you notice any skin changes. Dermatologists are very skilled at examining the skin for suspicious processes. Early detection is valuable in successfully treating skin cancer. Regular full body screening is recommended as well. A biopsy is usually performed to properly diagnose suspected abnormal or cancerous growths. A dermatologist's skill is at routine skin exam and noticing abnormal growths; Dr. Bershof 5280 Top Doctor Skin Cancer is skilled at removing the abnormal or cancerous growth once it has been suspected or diagnosed.
Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type, size and location of the tumor. Most options remove the entire growth and are usually effective. Some of these options listed below are performed by the dermatologist; Dr. Bershof is referred too, for complete surgical excision. Removal procedures are usually simple and require only a local anesthetic in an outpatient setting. Some of the treatment options for skin cancer include:
Freezing, also known as cryosurgery, performed by the dermatologist, kills abnormal tissues by freezing them with liquid nitrogen.
The abnormal tissue, as well as some surrounding healthy tissue, is cut out of the skin. If the lesion is large, or on the face, or the patient otherwise desires a plastic surgeon to perform the excision, Dr. Bershof would be glad to see you in consultation. Many dermatologist refer their patients to Dr. Bershof for surgical excision.
Laser therapy destroys cancerous growths with little damage to surrounding tissue and few side effects. Some dermatologists will use a laser.
Chemotherapy under the care of a dermatologist, uses topical drugs to kill cancer and pre-cancer cells, may be applied through creams or lotions for top layer tumors.
Frozen Sections/Mohs Surgery
Frozen sections and Mohs surgery are two similar techniques used in order to remove skin cancers and check the margins (the edges) while the cancer is being removed. The accuracy of frozen sections & Mohs are similar, but keep in mind they are both techniques that only remove the cancer, not to close the subsequent hole that is made. The advantage of frozen sections over Mohs is that once the hole is made, the plastic surgeon using frozen sections closes the hole rather than the Mohs dermatologist closing the hole. Dr. Bershof 5280 Top Doctor Skin Cancer is known for his skin cancer surgery and melanoma surgery. Plastic surgeons close cancer holes better than Mohs dermatologists. Its that simple.
Other treatment options are also available, including new methods that are currently being studied.
Although most treatment for skin cancer is successful, new tumors can still form. It is important to practice preventive measures and see your dermatologist on a regular basis. You can also perform self skin checks to spot any changes as soon as possible. If your dermatologist diagnoses an abnormal lesion, an abnormal mole or a skin cancer, Dr. Bershof would be happy to consult with you and your dermatologist in consultation.