Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US and affects over a million people each year. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This condition involves an abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells that can form anywhere on the body, although it most commonly affects skin that is exposed to the sun. Risk factors include pale skin, family history of melanoma, being over 40 years old, and regular sun exposure.
The most common types of skin cancers are:
- Basal cell carcinoma – 80-85% of all skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma affects cells in the lowest layer of the epidermis.
- Squamous cell carcinoma – 10% of all skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinoma affects cells in the middle layer of the epidermis.
- Melanoma – 5% of all skin cancers. Melanoma is a rare but very dangerous type of skin cancer. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease.
Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early. The best type of treatment for skin cancer depends on the type, size and location of the tumor. Most cases are removed surgically, through an outpatient procedure that requires only local anesthesia. This can be a simple excision that only leaves a small scar, or a deeper removal that may require later reconstruction.
Other treatment options for skin cancer include cryosurgery (freezing diseased cells), radiation therapy, topical chemotherapy, laser therapy or Mohs surgery, which involves shaving off the affected tissue layer by layer until no abnormal cells remain. These procedures are usually effective in thoroughly removing all traces of skin cancer, but it is important to see your doctor for regular screenings and practice healthy habits in order to prevent recurrence.
Skin changes are normal in most people, especially as you age. New growths may develop in the form of pigment changes, patches, bumps, lumps, moles, cysts, skin tags, or several other abnormal appearances. However, it is important to monitor any skin changes for potential signs of cancer or other serious conditions. While most growths are benign, meaning noncancerous, it is still necessary to seek medical attention for any abnormal skin changes.
Although benign skin growths do not usually cause any complications or problems, they can be treated promptly to help eliminate any potential risks associated with them. The treatment for benign growths is often similar to that of cancerous skin growths, and may include excision, cryosurgery, laser removal and other minimally invasive techniques. These procedures aim to remove the growth while preserving the surrounding skin and tissue to minimize scarring. Growth removal procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, in your doctor’s office, under local anesthesia. Your doctor will decide which treatment option is best for you.
While these skin lesions may clear up on their own, they can also be effectively treated through local destruction. Local destruction involves a thorough removal of the lesion and any surrounding affected tissue, using minimally invasive techniques when possible. Common treatments for warts and molluscum include curettage, cryotherapy, burning, laser therapy or chemical treatment. These procedures usually only require local anesthetic and can be performed in your doctor’s office.
Acne surgery is the use of various surgical procedures for the treatment of acne. Comedone extraction is a process of applying simple mechanical pressure with a comedone extractor, to extract the contents of the blocked pilosebaceous follicle. In addition to extractions, a licensed aesthetician or healthcare professional may recommend chemical peels. A superficial chemical peel is a process of applying a chemical agent to the skin, so as to cause controlled destruction of the epidermis leading to exfoliation. Glycolic acid, salicylic acid and trichloroacetic acid are commonly used peeling agents for the treatment of active acne and superficial acne scars.
If you would like more information about Surgical Dermatology or to schedule an appointment, feel free to fill out our convenient contact form or call us directly at (833)-DOC-DERM.