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Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, affecting around a million Americans every year. People who have the disease have abnormal skin cells that are spreading rapidly and at an uncontrollable pace, leading to malignant or benign lesions and/or tumors. These lesions and tumors can range from mildly unattractive to fatally serious, depending on their size, location and spread. Whether a person has keratinocyte (basal cell and squamous cell) skin cancer or malignant melanoma, he or she will need to speak with Dr. Potyondy about the best ways to remove the cancer and stop its spread. Depending on the specifics of the skin cancer in an individual patient, several different kinds of surgery are available, designed to remove the cancerous growths without too greatly changing the patient’s appearance.

Available Treatments Options for Skin Cancer

There are several kinds of treatment options for skin cancer, including various surgeries aimed at removing and stopping the growth of cancerous cells in a patient. Mohs micrographic surgery is considered the most effective technique for removing basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma; it spares as much healthy tissue as possible in the process of eliminating cancer cells. Treatment options for skin cancer include:
  • Excision: Performed in a dermatologist’s office after a patient’s skin has been numbed, excision is the surgical removal of an area of skin with both cancerous and normal (i.e., margin) cells.
  • Mohs Surgery: Performed one layer at a time, Mohs surgery is a method used to remove both visible and potential skin cancer. The surgeon examines each layer for cancer before deciding whether or not to proceed with additional layers, continuing until there are no cancer cells seen.
  • Curettage: For small basal cell and squamous cell cancers, a surgeon may scrape out a tumor with what’s called a curette, then using an electric needle to cauterize remaining cancer cells as well as normal-looking tissue. Typically repeated three times, this method typically allows skin to heal without stitches.
  • Other Treatments: Beyond surgery, there are various other treatment options for some skin cancer patients, including chemotherapy, radiation immunotherapy or cryosurgery.

The Results of Skin Cancer Surgery

Even after skin cancer surgery, some patients will require further treatment such as radiation to eliminate all remaining cancer cells. A person's physician can advise on whether or not follow-up treatments are recommended.

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