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Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Know Your Treatment Options

Know Your Treatment Options for Skin Cancer

The moment you are diagnosed with skin cancer you immediately begin to think of the next step. In most cases, patients are thinking of all their treatment options. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can provide your skin cancer treatment but will also thoroughly discuss your treatment options based on the skin cancer you have and the severity of it. Melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are the most common types of skin cancer. Learn more about each and treatment for them below.


Melanoma and How to Treat It

Of the three skin cancers mentioned above, melanoma is the deadliest. Melanoma begins in our cells that provide the color to our skin. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from either the sun or tanning beds is the main cause of melanoma. Melanoma then develops on those areas most exposed to the UV light such as are arms, legs, back and stomach. Signs of melanoma include changes in existing moles or the development of new moles or skin growths. Self-examinations for these new and/or changed moles and yearly examinations by a dermatologist are encouraged to help catch melanoma early to stop the spread and keep it from becoming deadly. To help stop the spread, you will begin treatment.

Treatment of melanoma includes Mohs micrographic surgery. During Mohs surgery, layers of tissue where the melanoma is located are continually removed until no more cancer is detected. The dermatologist will start the surgery by removing the first layer of infected tissue. After testing the tissue for skin cancer, if it tests positive, they then remove the next layer of tissue. This process is continued until a layer tests negative for skin cancer. A topical anesthetic is used so the procedure is painless. After the procedure, the area will be stitched up. You will come back in a few weeks to make sure the area is healing well and have the stitches removed.


Basal Cell Carcinoma

BCC affects more than 1 million people per year. It is the most common form of skin cancer. It develops on the top layer of the skin in the form of a waxy lesion, elevated growth or red, irritated patch of skin. Like melanoma, it develops from exposure to UV light. Avoiding direct sunlight and tanning beds and using sunscreen can help prevent BCC from developing. If it develops, it can be found on your face, ears, scalp, chest, or back. Early detection of BCC can prevent further damage to your skin.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma 

SCC is not as common as melanoma or BCC. It affects nearly 200,000 per year but should be taken as seriously as melanoma and BCC. SCC can be found on the upper layer of skin in the form of an inflamed bump or crusted patch of skin. Like melanoma and BCC, it is also caused from too much exposure to the sun. It can appear on body areas that have both been exposed to the sun and have not been exposed to the sun. Early detection of SCC can prevent it from spreading.

Your Treatment Options

BCC and SCC have similar treatment options. They include shave excisions, scissor excisions and surgical excisions. If the lesion is on the surface of the skin, a shave excision will be performed. A small blade is used to remove the lesion. The procedure is quick and painless. A scissor excision involves the dermatologist snipping around raised lesions to remove them. Lastly, a surgical excision is for deeper lesions. It is more invasive and stitches are often required.

The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute are here to help guide you and make the difficult reality of having skin cancer easier for you. If you are in the Bloomington, Illinois and surrounding areas and think you may have skin cancer, book an appointment and come in for a screening.

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