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Skin Cancer

“Cancer” is never a word to be taken lightly; it is important for patients to remember that skin cancer occurs more often than all other cancers combined.

The Non-Melanoma skin cancers (NMSC), such as Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), are far more common than Melanoma.

Basal Cell is the single most common cancer in the United States with over 3.5 million cases occurring each year. Many patients visit their Dermatology provider after developing a new skin-colored or shiny bump, or a pimple that won’t go away. Often times, patients will also describe “easy bleeding” or “it never heals”. In advanced stages, a Basal Cell will begin to eat away at the skin (ulcerate) as it extends to the deeper skin structures.

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Squamous cell, in contrast, is classically described as a rough, red, scaly patch that never heals. Some patients describe Squamous Cell lesions as being tender. While Basal Cell and Squamous Cell are rarely deadly, they can invade local skin and deeper tissues, resulting in significant disfigurement or spread to other regions (typically Squamous Cell) when left untreated for significant lengths of time (many years).

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The treatment for NMSC’s are most often a simple excision with your Dermatology provider. For cancers that are greater risk, or that occur in cosmetically or functionally sensitive areas (such as near an eye or over the nose), Mohs micrographic surgery is the treatment of choice recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Melanoma is far less common than Basal and Squamous Cell cancers, but may be deadly. Over the last 20 years, the incidence of melanoma has risen dramatically, particularly in women younger than 40. When melanoma is caught in the early stages, the cure rate approaches 100%. Sadly, when melanoma is not detected, once it has already spread from the skin (metastasized), the results can be devastating. Our Providers firmly believe in the importance of avid sun protection, self-examinations and an annual examination by a dermatology provider. Our Providers perform thorough total body skin exams (TBSE) utilizing dermoscopy and arm our patients with information to best protect themselves and lower their melanoma risk factors.

See Images of Melanoma Cell Cancer

Ultimately, dermatology is an art; we customize your treatment recommendations based on the cancer type, location, functionality of the treatment (how a treatment affects you) and its cosmetic outcome (how it will look).

Remember: sunlight damages the skin. Overtime, this damage leads to premature sagging, wrinkling, dulling, freckling, and increased roughness. Think of leather left too long in the sun; it dries, cracks, and deforms, losing its smooth texture and becoming brittle. Skin tags, pre-cancers, and even skin cancer are directly and proportionally connected to cumulative sun exposure over the course of your life.