Skin cancer is the most common cancer in human beings. In the United States alone, over a million new cases are diagnosed every year. The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. A patient’s treatment options will depend on the type of cancer they have and how advanced it is.
How is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?
The most common method for diagnosing skin cancer is the biopsy. The doctor removes a suspicious-looking skin sample and analyzes it. If a malignant melanoma is detected, the next step will be to determine if it has spread or not. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers, by contrast, do not metastasize, so if the doctor finds either of those, she can begin discussing treatment options with the patient.
What is Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery has the distinction of being the most effective treatment for skin cancer, with a cure rate of an impressive 98 percent. It is commonly used for treating basal cell and squamous cell cancers. Recent improvements in the technology have enabled surgeons to begin using it for melanoma.
The key to the technique’s success is that the surgeon examines the excised tissues immediately after removing them, so they can remove all of the cancer cells during the procedure. The surgeon starts by removing the visible cancer with a margin of apparently healthy skin around it.
While the patient waits, the sample is taken to the lab and cut into thin layers before they are analyzed. If cancer is found in the seemingly healthy tissue, another layer of tissue is removed from the patient. The process is repeated until a tissue sample is removed that has no cancer cells.
Mohs surgery is generally an outpatient procedure. It is especially effective for treating cancers that have recurred, are large and aggressive, have ill-defined borders and/or are in sensitive places, like the face, genitals, hands or feet.
Other Types of Surgery
Small skin cancers are typically removed by surgery, with the most common procedure being a simple excision in which the surgeon removes the cancer. Other techniques include electrodessication and curettage. In the latter procedure, the surgeon removes the cancer and then uses an electric needle to target the area.
Since malignant melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer, it is treated more aggressively than the other types. When a surgeon removes a malignant melanoma, one to three centimeters of bordering tissue is generally removed to make sure all of it is gone. The surgeon may even remove neighboring lymph nodes and have them tested for cancer.
Contact Us Today
At Steele Creek Dermatology in Charlotte, we are here to help you every step of the way, from diagnosing your skin cancer to helping you find the best treatment option for getting rid of it once and for all. We have a variety of safe and effective treatment options available. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment to learn more.