As the largest organ on the body, skin cancer accounts for the most common type of cancer today. In fact, the American Cancer Society states that more than 3.7 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year.
Like most cancers, skin cancers are malignant tumors of the skin. Commonly occurring cancers that rarely metastasize (or spread to other organs in the body) are called basal and squamous skin cancers. Basal and squamous skin cancer develops from excessive sun exposure over many years. Early detection and treatment can remove these types of skin cancers.
Malignant Melanoma is the third most common type of skin cancer. The main known cause is from harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. While Melanoma accounts for the smallest amount of skin cancer cases, it is the most aggressive. Rates of Melanoma in Oregon are some of the highest in the country. While Melanoma is a more dangerous type of skin cancer, when caught in the earliest stages, it is highly curable with surgery.
Fortunately, even the most aggressive forms of skin cancers can be treated and maybe even cured with early detection and preventative measures. That's why it is so crucial to have regular preventative skin exams and to be aware of the many skin cancer treatments available if you or a loved one develops skin cancer.
Let's review some of the most popular skin cancer treatments available to you...
Mohs Micrographic surgery is an extremely meticulous and precise method of removing all cancerous skin cells from the area the tumor was found. A big reason why Mohs Micrographic surgery is so successful is because the Mohs surgeon not only removes the cancerous cells but with the use of microscopic instruments, they can find and eliminate cancerous “roots” remaining in the skin. Mohs Micrographic surgery is the most accurate method to surgically remove skin cancer, surpassing many other treatments. It has proven to be 95% successful as opposed to other procedures with only an 80-90% success rate. Mohs Micrographic surgery is an outpatient procedure done in our office under local anesthesia. This technique minimizes scarring and has a reasonably quick healing time, however, it requires a 2-4 hour stay in the office while skin margins are being examined microscopically.
Electronic Brachytherapy is a procedure that involves the use of superficial radiation to treat skin cancer. Electronic Brachytherapy is most effective with non-melanoma skin cancers. Electronic Brachytherapy is non-invasive, and there is no scarring, injections, or cutting of the skin. Many patients say it is like receiving a laser treatment. This method is ideal for treating skin cancers that are occurring in difficult areas like the ears, around the eyes, nose, hands, and lower legs or feet. Electronic Brachytherapy is a fast treatment, and takes place over a number of bi-weekly treatments for 6-8 weeks.
Excision is simply the surgical removal of skin cancer tumors, along with a margin of normal skin to ensure a high cure rate. The area requires local anesthesia and suturing of the site is required at the time of removal. This is an outpatient procedure that usually takes about 20 minutes. The skin and tumor that were removed will be examined microscopically to ensure that it no cancer remains in the skin.
ED&C is a scraping procedure done under local anesthetic that is designed to destroy superficial basal and squamous cell skin cancers. No suturing is required and the area is left to heal up naturally over the next several weeks. This is a fast, in-office procedure that takes about 5 minutes.
While the diagnosis of skin cancer be frightening, we are proud to offer many treatment options to remove the skin cancer, and in most cases, cure it completely. As with any cancer, early detection is key to the best patient outcome.