Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, affecting 1 in 5 Americans during their lifetimes. The good news is that skin cancer is highly curable when diagnosed and treated early. We offer our patients peace of mind with our expert diagnosis and treatment of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Skin cancer most often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the sun, but can occur anywhere. People of all races get skin cancer, although the lighter the skin, the higher the risk. Very dark-skinned people are much less likely to get skin cancer.
How do we treat skin cancer?
Surgery is the primary treatment for most skin cancers, but there are multiple techniques:
- Curetting and cauterizing — The simplest skin cancers can be removed by curetting and cauterizing the skin.
- Excision — For some skin cancers excision is preferred, which is done safely and simply in the office, with local anesthetic. Using a scalpel, we remove the entire growth, along with a surrounding border of apparently normal skin, to be certain the entire skin cancer is removed. The skin around the surgical site is closed with stitches, and the tissue specimen is sent to the laboratory to verify that all cancerous cells have been removed.
- Without surgery — Some, but not all, skin cancers can be removed without any surgery, using one of a few creams available for this purpose. The advantage of this is that there is no scar. The disadvantage is that there is more likelihood of the skin cancer coming back, and the process of using the cream is more time-intensive for the patient.
- More elaborate treatment — A minor percentage of skin cancers require more elaborate treatment; in such cases we refer to and work with Mohs surgeons, general surgeons, plastic surgeons, and cancer specialists.
For every skin cancer we discuss with the patient all the options available, explaining them thoroughly and comparing their risks, advantages and disadvantages. We look for the treatment plan that best suits the nature of the skin cancer and the preferences and circumstances of the individual patient.
How common is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common of all human cancers, affecting 1 in 5 Americans during their lifetimes. The good news is that skin cancer is highly curable when diagnosed and treated early. We offer our patients peace of mind with our expert diagnosis and treatment of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
What types of skin cancer are there?
There are many types of skin cancer, far too many to list here, but the Big Three are basal cell carcinoma (most common, and least serious), squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma (least common, but by far the most serious). If you’d like to read more, the American Academy of Dermatology has an excellent page describing these 3 types of skin cancer.
Do you have any advice to help me prevent skin cancer?
Why, yes! On our Handouts page we have a handy list of Sun Protection Guidelines.
Since sunlight causes most skin cancers, sun protection is by far the most effective way to prevent them. Please keep in mind that skin cancers appear decades after the sun exposure that caused them! It is also likely that not smoking reduces the frequency of some skin cancers, and the use of antioxidants and a healthy diet are probably beneficial (in many ways), but these factors pale in comparison to sun protection.