Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. When caught early, treatment for skin cancer is fast and easy. However, with 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer every year, it is not always caught in the earliest stages. Skin cancer is diagnosed more often than colon, breast, lung, and prostate cancer combined. The good news is that you’re in total control of preventing skin cancer and ensuring it is caught early through annual skin checks with your dermatologist or even a dedicated skin cancer screening.
Melanoma is the rarest form of skin cancer—but the deadliest form. About four percent of skin cancer cases involve melanoma. If melanoma is caught before it grows beyond the skin’s upper layers, it is curable in 99 percent of cases. However, advanced melanoma has a survival rate of just 15 percent. Unfortunately, the rates for melanoma are growing.
Melanoma is especially prevalent in those who have had sunburns that blister. Using sunscreen regularly as well as protective clothing can drastically reduce your odds of developing melanoma or any type of skin cancer.
This is the most common type of skin cancer, with 2.8 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Common signs of basal cell carcinoma include pink bumps, sores that don’t heal, and areas of the skin that look like a reddish scar. Sometimes basal cell carcinoma treatment is just a topical medication. Other times excision and Mohs surgery is necessary. This cancer is almost never fatal, but still demands treatment.
The second most common type of skin cancer, squamous cell carcinoma cases average 700,000 per year in the US. The signs of squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma are similar. There are many treatment options including topical gels, electrodessication with cautery, and surgical excisions.
Non-melanoma cancers, like basal cell carcinoma, are more common around the world. They are the easiest to cure and least dangerous. Melanoma is the deadliest for many reasons, one of them being the fast rate at which it grows in comparison to other forms of cancer. Ultraviolet exposure demands are minimal when it comes to developing melanoma, whereas other types of skin cancer require much more exposure.
The more ultraviolet rays you are exposed to throughout your life, the higher the risk for any type of skin cancer. However, melanoma can occur just about anywhere on the body, including areas that have never been exposed to ultraviolet rays. Melanoma has a strong genetic component, unlike other forms of skin cancer. Those with a lot of moles or with a close relative diagnosed with melanoma are at a much higher risk.
Video: Dr. Nancy Kim Interviewed by Fox 10 News on Melanoma: Fox 10 News interviews Dr. Nancy Kim, Phoenix Dermatologist at Spectrum Dermatology, regarding melanoma and skin Cancer.
– Ed, Actual Patient*
Curettage-electrodessication combines two skin cancer treatments. Curettage is when suspicious skin is scraped away with a special instrument. Electrodessication applies a current directly to the area, which destroys the targeted tissue and dries it out. The combined procedure is a very effective means of treating both pre-cancerous and cancerous areas.
The technique is fast and simple. First, a local anesthetic is applied to ensure comfort. The scraping and cauterizing is performed three times in one appointment, and the wound can usually heal without needing stitches. The patient feels no discomfort and the actual procedure takes just a few minutes.
Due to the drying approach of this method, bleeding is minimal with this procedure. However, a light dressing may be required for a few days post-procedure. In some cases, an antibiotic ointment is prescribed. Recovery is a little longer with curettage-electrodessication compared to surgical excisions, and the average is three weeks. Since there are no sutures, there is no need for a suture removal appointment.
The curettage-electrodessication procedure is ideal for small lesions or cancerous areas. It is a simple, non-surgical procedure that cures up to 95 percent of lesions.
Even though the treated area is small, the aesthetic outcome of this technique is not as appealing as an excision. If you are treating an area on the face or other highly visible area, a surgical excision may be recommended. However, over time the scars from curettage-electrodessication tend to be less noticeable than the ones from surgical excisions. They lighten up very well.
In rare cases, hypertrophic or keloid scars may result from this technique (or any technique). There are many options for treating these unwanted scars, including cortisone injections.
A surgical excision is also fast and easy. It is a method that can treat any type of skin cancer that has not grown beyond the skin. These procedures are performed in office with local anesthesia. There is no pain or discomfort. The targeted area is removed, and with Mohs surgery it can be biopsied while the patient waits. Once the borders are considered “all clear,” the wound is sutured together.
There is minimal discomfort after the procedure. Patients require a follow-up appointment to remove sutures in two weeks. Most excision scars become faint. The cure rate of excision surgery is 95 percent for basal cell carcinoma and 92 percent for squamous cell carcinoma.
Spectrum Dermatology puts patient wellness and safety first. For all your skin exams, skin cancer screenings, and skin cancer treatments, trust the local Scottsdale and Phoenix experts. Call to schedule your appointment at (480) 948-8400 today.