SKIN CANCER CLINIC
There are three basic forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. Anyone can be diagnosed with cancer at any age. Doctors link these forms of cancer to overexposure to the sun. Tanning booths can also increase your risk, as can exposure to radiation or high altitude. Because each type of skin cancer has a different look, effect and treatment, it is important to alert your physician if you notice unusual changes in the size and shape of spots, the coloration of your skin or the sensitivity and comfort of your body. Time is of the essence, and when caught early, many forms of skin cancer can be successfully treated.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most prevalent form of skin cancer. It appears as an irregularly shaped blemish or blister that crusts over or bleeds without healing. In some cases, this cancer can cause the lashes of the eyelids to fall out. While this form of cancer is rarely life threatening, failure to treat it in a timely manner can cause serious damage to your tissue and bones.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma often originates on the face and surrounding areas. It can appear as waxy or shiny patches or as small red or white bumps on the skin. If not treated, it can spread to the internal organs and become a life threatening condition.
Malignant melanoma is by far the deadliest form of skin cancer. This form of cancer generally begins within moles. While it occurs less frequently than the other forms of skin cancer, it is more dangerous because, if not treated quickly, it can spread throughout the entire body, proving fatal. If you notice any changes in the size, shape, color or sensitivity of your moles, you should contact your doctor for an examination.
In situations where the cancer is relatively small, your doctor will surgically excise the cancerous flesh and then reconstruct the area. In more extreme cases, where the cancer is larger or has spread to other areas of the body, measures such as cryosurgery (where the cancer is frozen) or radiation therapy may be recommended. In addition, chemotherapy and Mohs surgery (in which the cancer is taken off in layers) have been successful in eradicating cancerous cells. The important thing is to contact your doctor immediately for a consultation if you feel that you are showing symptoms of any of these conditions. After surgery, it is important to carefully check your skin regularly for recurrences, and you should visit your doctor regularly for routine exams.
Skin Cancer Patients – Important Information:
Once you have been given the diagnosis of skin cancer, you must be seen by a dermatologist on a regular basis, every six to 12 months.
After the treatment of your skin cancer, you will return to our office for suture removal. You may then be seen one month after the surgery to evaluate the scar.
Dr. Horton highly recommends that you be seen six months after the surgery.
For the rest of your life, it is recommended that you be seen by a dermatologist every six to 12 months.
The reasons to be seen are:
To look for recurrences of the skin cancer. Unfortunately, no skin cancer treatment is 100% effective.
To look for the development of a new skin cancer. If a cancer is diagnosed early, it is easy to treat. (Rather, it is easier to treat than a new lesion that is left untreated and growing for years.)
With squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, there is a risk of metastasis, thus you must be monitored closely.
Remember that you should wear sunscreen on exposed areas, such as your face, EVERYDAY!! Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection, with an SPF of at least 15 or greater every morning. If you’re going to be out in the sun, re-apply the sunscreen every one to two hours. Also, don’t forget to wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses!
If you develop a new growth and are concerned that it may be a skin cancer, please call our office! Tell the receptionist that you have a history of skin cancer, and that you are concerned that you may have another skin cancer. We will then try to get you an appointment ASAP to evaluate the new growth. Please keep your six-month Full Skin Exam appointment to have the rest of your skin checked.