May is skin cancer awareness month and the perfect time to become educated about a very preventable and treatable disease. When you suspect that you may have a skin cancer, panic is usually the first emotion to hit. Try not to panic, the most important thing to do is call your Dermatologist or if you do not have one, find a reputable one in your area. The best way to find a reputable doctor is word of mouth. Start asking around work, or your friends or call your insurance company to ask who is covered under your plan. If you aren’t satisfied with this try going online and searching for ‘dermatologist skin cancer treatment’, you are bound to find many physicians.
If you think that you may have skin cancer you need to goto the dermatologist. If a mole has changed in size, color or diameter this is a warning sign. This is not meant to scare you because odds are you caught it early, but it needs to be biopsied. Usually when you find a suspected skin cancer on your body it is in the very early stages.There are many types of precancerous growths and skin cancer and most are not melanoma. However, 2-10% of Squamous Cell Carcinoma metastasize(2500 cases/yr), so they shouldn’t be ignored. In most cases skin cancer can be treated in office very easily with no pain.
When you visit your Dermatologist he most likely will biopsy your mole or sore to determine what it is. Depending on the type of cancer it is he or she will recommend treatment. There are a few ways to treat cancers of the skin. Cryosurgery, electrosurgery and Mohs. Mohs is the chosen treatment when the cancer is deep, aggressive, reoccurring or hard to treat. Reconstructive surgery may be needed after Mohs depending on where the cancer is located. Healing usually takes a few weeks to a few months depending on size and location. Full scar healing can take up to 18 months. Cryosurgery is used more frequently precancerous growths such as actinic keratosis than for skin cancer. However, your doctor may biopsy before removal. Cyryosurgery involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze layers of skin that will eventually scab and fall away leaving newer skin. This is good for precancerous growths and non-invasive cancers. Recovery and healing is usually 3-6 weeks. Electrosurgery is used for Basal Cell and Squamous Cell cancers . Electrosurgery is the burning of skin tissue with an electric current that runs through a metal instrument or needle. Curettage is scraping the skin with a spoon-shaped instrument (curette) to remove skin tissue. Electrosurgery may be done after curettage to control bleeding and destroy any remaining cancer cells. Recovering and healing is 3-6 weeks depending on how deep the procedure went.
We can’t urge you enough to where SPF and get checked by your Dermatologist. Fight cancer before it gets you. Spread the word and educate people in your life about proper skin and sun care. May is skin caner awareness month, give a ‘sun safe’ gift to someone you love. A colorful wide brimmed hat with a bottle of SPF is the perfect gift!