A skin cancer diagnosis, understandably, can be scary and overwhelming, leaving you to face frightening days ahead along with many questions about treatment and what to expect. Thankfully, there are a number of available and effective treatments for skin cancer.
At Front Range Dermatology Associates, we have highly skilled providers who are able to assess an abnormal lesion or spot on your skin and identify a potential risk for skin cancer. If cancer is suspected, a skin biopsy will be ordered, in which a sample of the affected tissue is removed and examined. The results of the biopsy will help your provider decide on the best treatment option for your individual situation.
First Steps in Treating Skin Cancer
The type of treatment you can receive will depend on a number of factors including the type of cancer, if there is a tumor and what size it is, the location and depth of the cancer, and the stage of the cancer. Other factors that could affect the treatment options available to you are your age, medical history, whether you smoke or use tobacco, and overall health.
Choosing the best treatment option greatly depends on the type of skin cancer the patient has. There are three primary categories of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma out of these three is the most common, but malignant melanoma is the most dangerous. Regardless of which type of cancer you have, early detection and beginning treatment quickly is crucial in improving your chances of a successful treatment.
Available Treatment Options for Skin Cancer
When detected early and treatment is started quickly, all three primary types of skin cancer have the potential of being managed, treated and even cured. There are numerous procedures and treatments available. Read more about available treatments by clicking here. The most common treatments for skin cancer include:
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is one of the most advanced treatments for skin cancer. This surgical technique is microscopically controlled and removes the cancer in stages in order to ensure that all cancerous cells are removed while protecting as much of the healthy tissue as possible.
During Mohs surgery, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon carefully removes a section of the affected skin and then microscopically examines the sample to determine if there are cancer cells present and in what exact area they are found. The surgeon then goes back and removes another layer of tissue in the pinpointed area, which will then be examined just as the first layer. This surgical process is repeated until all cancer cells have been removed. This procedure has proven to be 98-99% effective, offering the highest potential for cure and recovery, and provides patients with the best possibility for reduced scarring. You can read more detailed information about Mohs surgery by clicking here.
Electrodesiccation and Curettage:
Electrodesiccation and curettage (ED&C) is a procedure most often used in treating small squamous cell or basal cell carcinomas or to treat pre-cancerous lesions. ED&C can also be quite effective as a preventative treatment, however, is not recommended for aggressive cancers or for lesions in difficult areas of the skin such as the face.
In this procedure, local anesthesia is injected into the affected area of the skin and a lesion is then carefully shaved or scraped off using a round, blade-like instrument called a curette. The site is then cauterized (burned) with an electrocautery needle in order to stop bleeding and kill remaining cancer cells. The doctor repeats this process until all cancer cells have been removed. ED&C will most likely leave a scar, the size of which depends on the size of the lesion being removed.
A more simple excision procedure can be performed to remove small basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. During an excision, the cancer is excised along with a small amount of surrounding tissue. Excisional surgery is most effective for cancers or tumors caught at an early stage. And when performed by an experienced and board-certified dermatologic surgeon, it may be the only treatment needed.
Oral and Topical Medications:
There are a number of both oral and topical medications that are FDA-approved for treating skin cancer. Oral medications such as Erivedge or Odomzo and topical medications such as imiquimod or 5-fluorouracil can be used to treat various skin cancers, but not all.
If you have noticed an abnormal lesion or spot on your skin, do not hesitate and make an appointment at our Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, or Fort Morgan offices today. If the lesion is cancerous, Front Range Dermatology Associates is equipped and experienced to provide you with the highest level of skin cancer treatment. Call us today at 970-673-1155.