Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States?
Major skin cancer causes involve skin cells becoming damaged, such as when the skin suffers from overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. While the sun itself is unavoidable, it is important to remember that there are ways to prevent and detect skin issues before they progress into dangerous forms of skin cancer.
An annual skin check with one of our board-certified dermatologists at Millburn Laser Center in Millburn, New Jersey is also an important practice to add to your calendar. Whether it is summer or not, you should be aware of your moles, sunspots, and freckles.
The Importance of an Annual Skin Check
Early detection is always key and a skin cancer screening can serve as your best line of defense in detecting cancer before it spreads and becomes difficult to treat. An annual skin cancer test is recommended for those who are at higher risk of skin cancer. People who have a family history of skin cancer, those who are frequently exposed to the sun, and those with specific skin types (e.g., pale or freckled skin) are more prone to skin cancer.
The Skin Cancer Foundation has developed a tool (ABCDE) you can use to examine your skin at home:
- Asymmetry – If you draw a line through your mole and the two halves don’t match, it could be a sign of melanoma.
- Border – melanomas have uneven borders. Edges may appear notched or scalloped.
- Color – benign moles usually have one color (e.g., brown). A melanoma will have a variety of colors and may appear red, white, or blue.
- Diameter – melanomas are larger in diameter compared to a pencil eraser (6 mm).
- Evolving – when a mole is evolving, it changes in shape, size, color, and elevation, and may bleed or itch.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
Once the skin cancer is confirmed by a biopsy and a proper skin cancer diagnosis has been made, your dermatologist will recommend a treatment option suitable to your skin cancer type, taking into consideration its size, location, and features.
Skin cancer treatment is done on an outpatient basis, typically by any of these surgical methods:
Excisional Surgery – A scalpel is used to excise or remove the entire skin cancer along with a surrounding border of normal skin as a safety margin.
Curettage and Electrodesiccation (Electrosurgery) – The doctor scrapes off a portion or all of the lesion using a curette (a spoon-shaped instrument with a sharp, ring-shaped tip), and then burns the site with an electrocautery needle to stop the bleeding and destroy any remaining cancer cells. The process may be repeated one to three times during the surgery to remove all of the cancer cells.
Cryosurgery – Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze and destroy the lesion and the surrounding skin.
Laser Therapy – A laser beam with a specific wavelength is used to make bloodless cuts on the skin in order to remove the skin’s outer layers or some amount of deeper skin. This procedure is used to treat actinic keratosis and low-risk skin cancers.
Mohs Surgery – A precise surgical technique where layers of skin cells are progressively removed and examined until the patient is cancer-free.
While simple excision, electrosurgery, and cryosurgery may be considered to treat BCC and SCC, the preferred skin cancer treatment option for non-melanoma cancers is Mohs Surgery.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, Mohs offers a unique benefit because this surgical technique allows the doctor to see where the cancer stops. Other treatment options do not offer this advantage. Since the procedure provides the ability to see where the cancer stops, Mohs has a high success rate and allows patients to keep as much healthy skin as possible.
What Happens During Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is performed by dermatologists who have completed extensive training.
During the procedure, most patients are awake and alert. An anesthetic will be injected to numb the area that will be operated on. The surgeon will then cut out the visible skin cancer and also remove a thin layer of surrounding skin. The treated area will be bandaged so the patient can comfortably wait for lab results. During the lab work, the surgeon will examine the removed skin under a microscope. If cancer cells are found, more skin will be removed from the patient. This process continues until the surgeon no longer sees any cancer cells. Wounds may or may not require stitches, depending on their size and location. Some patients may need a skin graft or other types of surgery to help minimize scarring and further promote healing.
Schedule a Skin Cancer Consultation Millburn, New Jersey
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and about 9,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. Being proactive about preventing and detecting skin cancer can be life-saving. Here at the Millburn Laser Center in New Jersey, our highly-trained board-certified dermatologists specialize in the detection and treatment of skin cancer and have our own on-site Mohs Surgery Center. To learn more about skin cancer causes and how to protect your skin, schedule a skin screening with us today or call us at 973-315-8590.
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