Skin Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Did you know that more than 3.5 million Americans are affected by skin cancer each year? It’s the most common type of cancer in the United States. Different types of cancer start in the skin, and they can appear anywhere on the body. The good news is that skin cancer is highly curable when diagnosed and treated early by a skilled dermatologist like the experts at Winston Salem Dermatology. Because the disease is so widespread, it’s important to know the signs of skin cancer and the treatment options.
Common Skin Cancer Types
The type of skin cancer a person gets depends on where cancer starts. Most cases are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet light that the sun produces. Genetics and skin type can also play a role in skin cancer causes. There are three types that are pretty common.
How is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?
Your doctor will have to screen the suspicious area of your skin to determine if it is cancerous or not. This will help the doctor find out what type of cancer you have, how advanced it is, and what the treatment options are.
- Examine Your Skin
Your doctor will most likely look at your skin to see if the area has changed or if it looks like you may have a skin cancer spot. If the spot looks like it may be a problem, then you will have to have further testing done.
- Skin Biopsy
Depending on the spot, it may have to be removed during a biopsy. There are several different biopsies that can be performed:
- Shave biopsy: A razor is used to shave off the abnormal growth
- Punch biopsy: A special instrument is used to punch the area of the tissue that looks affected
- Incisional biopsy: A scalpel is used to remove part of the growth
- Excisional biopsy: A scalpel removes the entire growth
The biopsy will be sent to the lab for testing to see what type of skin cancer you have.
Determining the Extent of the Skin Cancer
If your doctor determines your abnormal spot is cancerous, then you will need additional testing to determine what stage the cancer is in. If the cancer is basal cell carcinoma, usually just a biopsy that removes the growth is the only test that’s needed. If it’s a more serious form of cancer, then additional tests may be needed. This may include imaging tests to look at the lymph nodes, or even a procedure to remove the entire lymph node to test it for cancer.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
No one wants to have a positive skin cancer diagnosis, but the good news is, most skin cancer on the face and other parts of the body are treatable. There are many effective treatments for eliminating the disease.
Most skin cancers can be treated with surgery. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma cancers can be removed by a dermatologist as an outpatient procedure. More aggressive cancers will require more extensive surgery that may require removing a tumor.
- Topical Treatments
This is a form of chemotherapy that is applied to the skin. This is usually used for early-stage skin cancer like the basal cell, squamous cell carcinomas, or noncancerous lesions.
This is used on advanced skin cancers that have spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy drugs are designed to stop or slow the growth of tumor cells.
- Radiation Therapy
These treatments are used after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells where lymph nodes have been removed. Radiation has also been used for recurrent skin cancer to reduce spreading.
- Targeted Therapy
These drugs are used to treat melanoma and rare cases of advanced basal cell carcinoma. The goal is to stop or slow down the tumor’s growth by attacking its genetic features on cells that regulate growth.
This is where drugs are designed and used to have the patient’s own immune system fight cancer. This is used to treat Merkel cell carcinoma and melanoma.
Skin Cancer Treatment at Winston Salem Dermatology
Are you looking for a reliable dermatologist who you can trust? Then Winston Salem Dermatology is the perfect partner for you. If you have a spot you’re concerned about, let our experts examine the suspicious area and figure out your next steps. Not only do we provide our patients with a variety of treatment options, but we also provide the best support system and after-care. Taking care of your skin is a crucial part of your overall health, and we can provide you with the tools you need. Reach out to us today at (336) 774-8636.