Did you know skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? In fact, more than 2 million people are diagnosed per year, with the total number of cancers found averaging around 3.5 million. That’s more cases per year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers combined. And while the numbers are frightening, there is so much that you can do to prevent skin cancer. Even if you do get a diagnosis based on your yearly skin exam or specific skin cancer screening, we can help treat your skin cancer to give you the best possible outcome.
Melanoma can be a deadly form of skin cancer. However, if detected early, before the tumor has penetrated the skin, it can be 99% curable. In advanced cases of melanoma, survival falls to 15%. Melanoma risk is increasing; recent studies show the risk of development of melanoma to be 1 in 62. With a history of 5 or more blistering sunburns, this risk increases to 1 in 31. Regular sunscreen use and sun-protective behavior along with regular skin checks by a qualified professional are important ways to reduce your risk of developing melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. An estimated 2.8 millions cases are diagnosed in the US every year. Signs and symptoms of basal cell carcinomas include: a non-healing sore, pink shiny bump, a scar-like area, and a reddish patch. Depending on their location and size, basal cell carcinomas may be treated with topical medications, electrodessication and curettage, surgical excision, and Mohs surgery. Basal cell carcinomas are rarely fatal but can be highly disfiguring if not treated in a timely fashion.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer in the US, with an estimated 700,000 cases diagnosed per year. Signs of squamous cell carcinoma are similar to basal cell carcinoma: non-healing sores, pink scaly lesions. As squamous cell carcinoma sometimes metastasizes, it is important to treat squamous cell carcinoma in a timely fashion. There are many treatment options for skin cancer, including electrodessication and cautery, surgical excision, and Mohs surgery.
Non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are the most common types of cancer around the world. Fortunately, they are also the most curable, especially when the tumors are relatively small and thin. The type of cancer treatment chosen depends on the type of skin cancer, the size of the skin cancer, and where it is found on the body.
Melanoma is different from basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma in several ways. First, it does not necessarily require much UVR exposure which comes from sun or tanning beds. Of course, the more UVR to which you are exposed, the higher your risks for these skin cancers, including melanoma. Thus, melanoma can be found anywhere on the skin, including places that never have/never will be exposed to UVR.
Your genetic makeup seems to play a prominent role in some melanomas. If you have a lot of moles, or a close relative had melanoma, you are at a significant risk of getting melanoma.
Fox 10 News interviews Dr. Nancy Kim, Phoenix Dermatologist at Spectrum Dermatology regarding Melanoma and Skin Cancer.
Curettage-electrodessication is a combination of two techniques: curettage (scraping the skin away with a curette, a ring-shaped instrument) and electrosurgery or electrodessication, in which a high-frequency current is applied to the lesion, destroying the tissue by “drying it out.” Combining this process with curettage has proven highly effective against precancerous and cancerous skin growths.
A local anesthetic is injected under the skin. After scraping away the growth with a long spoon-like instrument called a curette, the physician uses a mild electric current to destroy any remaining abnormal cells. This scraping and cauterizing process is typically repeated three times, and the wound tends to heal without stitches.
There is little bleeding with this method. Usually the patient is advised to use a simple dressing for a few days, sometimes with an antibiotic ointment beneath the dressing. The wound requires more time to heal after curettage-electrodessication than after excisional surgery, usually two to four weeks. There is no need to have sutures removed post procedure. Postoperative complications are relatively rare.
This method is ideal for treating small or multiple lesions. It can usually be done in the physician’s office under local anesthesia in a very short period of time and has a cure rate of 85%-95% for primary lesions.
The cosmetic results may not be as good as those resulting from excisional surgery. Many doctors recommend that other techniques be used to remove growths on the face in the areas of the nose, mouth and eyelids. Although in time the scars left by curettage-electrodessication become less conspicuous, they tend to remain lighter in color than the surrounding skin.
Occasionally, enlarged (hypertrophic) scars or very rarely, keloids (raised, reddish nodules) will appear at the treated site. The thickened scars usually subside by themselves in time. Sometimes cortisone injections can hasten this shrinking process. Keloids are more difficult to eradicate. Some positive results have been reported by treating them with repeated injections of steroids.
– Ed, Actual Patient*
Simple surgical excision (skin cancer removal) is used to treat both primary and recurrent basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.
Excision is performed in the office under local anesthesia. Local anesthetic is injected under the skin and the procedure is relatively painless. The procedure involves surgically removing the tumor and a certain amount of normal-appearing skin surrounding it (the “margin”): For basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, margins are often 2 to 4 mm. The specimen is sent for analysis to ensure that the tumor has been completely removed. Then the excision is sutured together into a fine line.
Typically most patients do not feel significant discomfort post procedure. One to two weeks after the procedure, the patient will need to return to the office to have sutures removed. In time the excision site will heal into a faint fine line.
The cure rates following skin cancer excision are 95% and 92% for primary BCC and SCC, respectively, and are dependent on the site, size, and pattern of the tumor.
Spectrum Dermatology provides expertise, knowledge and passion to skin exams, skin cancer screenings, and the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers. Our experience and reputation make Spectrum Dermatology one of the most sought-after dermatologist in the Scottsdale and Phoenix area. For more information or to set up an appointment please contact us at (480) 948-8400.