If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, odds are your dermatologist has already reviewed the various treatment options available to you. But if you suspect you have cancer or want some more details on common skin cancer treatments, read on.
Skin cancer can be nerve-wracking, but when detected early, treatment is very effective and safe. A surgical excision might sound daunting too, but many of these surgeries can be performed with minimal impact on your day-to-day life. Surgical excisions are most often used for non-melanoma lesions like squamous or basal cell carcinoma. Most likely, for any of the procedures you won’t need to go under anesthesia. Instead, your doctor will apply topical or localized anesthesia to the treatment area. There are a few different ways your doctor might remove the tumor, depending on its location and depth in the skin. If the cancerous lesion is not deep in the skin (usually cancer that hasn’t developed too far or deep) a shave excision can be performed. A shave excision uses a small blade to remove the lesion from the surface of the skin. After this treatment, cauterization or topical medication will be applied in order to stop bleeding and reduce the likelihood of scarring. If your tumor or lesion is deeper within the skin, a standard surgical excision can be conducted to remove it. This treatment calls for an incision and the tumor is cut and removed. Finally, a scissor excision can be used for raised or elevated tumors. This process involves pulling the skin and lesion upward, while curved scissors are used to cut this tissue free. With these two more invasive treatments, stitches are often required. Once your surgical excision is complete, you won’t need to spend much time recovering. This is outpatient day surgery, so provided no more cancer is detected, your treatment is most likely complete. In some cases chemotherapy is required following treatment, although a thorough incision usually does the trick.
While non-melanoma cancer is easily treated by a surgical excision, a more complicated procedure is required for melanoma. Melanoma is an aggressive and fast-moving form of skin cancer that can be lethal if not detected early. Melanoma forms as a darkened lesion on the skin that often resembles a mole. Because of how melanoma forms, it can often go undetected without mole evaluations from a dermatologist. Since melanoma can develop on very thin skin, even a surgical excision can be too deep. Mohs micrographic surgery is a long-practiced method for safely and effectively removing melanoma. Much like standard surgical excisions, Mohs surgery is conducted on an outpatient basis without the need for general anesthesia. This means that most Mohs treatments don’t require multiple visits.
With Mohs surgery, your doctor will remove the topmost layer of cancerous skin and examine it under a microscope. This process is repeated until cancerous cells are no longer visible. In some cases, Mohs surgery does require stitches but in other scenarios only needs bandaging. Since melanoma can crop up on very thin skin, Mohs is specialised for melanoma. However, if other forms of skin cancer appear on the nose, ears, eyelids, or other areas of thin skin, Mohs might also work to treat them.
No matter which type of skin cancer you have, you might be worried that you aren’t fully prepared for your treatment. With the details of each procedure fresh in your mind, make certain to consult the experts you can trust at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
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