Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Each year, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans develop skin cancer before the age of 70. When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%. Most non-melanoma types of skin cancer can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Skin cancer is staged according to how far it has spread.
What is Skin Cancer and Melanoma? What Are the Different Types?
At its most basic, skin cancer can be defined as an abnormal growth of skin cells. Most skin cancers develop on skin exposed to the sun, but skin cancers can occur anywhere on the body. Skin cancer affects people with every skin tone, and it does not discriminate between men and women. The three most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It usually appears on sun-exposed areas of the body, such as the face and neck. It is the most curable form of skin cancer, and the damage can be minimal when it is caught early. Basal cell carcinoma tends to grow slowly and starts in the top layer of the skin. Although basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads beyond the original tumor site, this cancer can become dangerous if the lesions are left untreated.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. Squamous cells are the flat cells found in the top layer of the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma can occur anywhere on the body. If squamous cell carcinoma goes untreated, it can become invasive and grow deeper into the various layers of skin and eventually spread to other parts of the body.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It is far less common than either basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas. If left untreated, melanoma can rapidly spread to other organs in the body. When melanoma is detected early, it is usually curable. Melanoma can grow from an existing mole or form a new lesion on the skin that appears to be normal. It is most found on the torso and legs.
What Treatment is Recommended for Skin Cancer and Melanoma?
When skin cancer and melanoma are detected, the only treatment option is the removal of the abnormal cells. This can be accomplished through a variety of different types of skin cancer removal surgical techniques. If the cancer is larger or has spread, radiation therapy or chemotherapy can become a treatment option.
What Happens During Skin Cancer and Melanoma Skin Removal Surgery?
Surgical treatment for skin cancer and melanoma depends on the size of the lesion. Most small skin cancers are removed at the biopsy stage. Other forms of skin cancer treatment are:
Freezing - Using liquid nitrogen, the doctor will freeze the lesion. Once the skin thaws, the dead tissue is easily removed.
Excisional surgery - The doctor removes the cancerous tissue and some healthy skin surrounding it by either cutting it out or shaving it off.
Mohs surgery - When the skin cancer is more significant, the doctor removes the skin growth layer by layer. He then examines each layer under a microscope until no abnormal cells remain.
Curettage and electrodesiccation - After removing most of the growth, the doctor scrapes away layers of cancer cells with a device known as a curet. He then uses an electric needle to destroy any remaining cancer cells. He may also use liquid nitrogen to freeze the edges of the treated area.
Laser surgery - The doctor uses a laser beam to destroy the cancer cells.
Lymph node biopsy and removal - In the case of melanoma, a lymph node biopsy is often necessary. Lymph nodes are notorious for receiving fluid draining from a tumor. If melanoma cells are discovered in the lymph nodes during the biopsy, lymph nodes in the surrounding area are typically removed.
What is the Recovery Like for Skin Cancer and Melanoma Skin Removal?
Your side effects and recovery time will depend on how extensive your procedure was. Even the most minimally invasive surgery can produce side effects. Typical side effects from skin cancer surgery include:
- Bruising or swelling
- Numbness or other nerve damage
Why Choose Dr. Daniel Gay for This Procedure?
Dr. Daniel Gay is a board-certified general surgeon in the Treasure Valley area encompassing Boise, Meridian, and Caldwell, Idaho. Dr. Gay has vast experience with skin cancers and believes in treating his patients how he would want to be treated himself. His focus is on educating his patients and providing the individualized attention that each patient deserves. If you need to schedule an appointment or would like more information about skin cancer and melanoma,
contact us today.