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Skin Cancer

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Basal Cell Carcinoma

You are likely looking at our website because you have been diagnosed as having a basal cell carcinoma, or concerned that you may have one. You certainly are not alone with estimates that there are over 2 million cases of basal cell carcinoma being diagnosed in the United States every year. Not only is basal cell carcinoma the most common form of skin cancer, but it is the most common cancer in general. Basal cell carcinoma does not spread to the rest of the body, nor does basal cell carcinoma turn into melanoma. However, basal cell carcinoma will invade and destroy local tissue if not adequately treated.

Patients will often remark that their basal cell carcinoma has not caused pain, itching, has never bled or at most infrequently bled or scabbed. In fact basal cell carcinomas are generally asymptomatic. Bleeding and scabbing are generally a later sign, and often due to accidental trauma from toweling, shaving, or other minor physical disturbance to the area.

Basal cell carcinoma is caused by a lifetime of sun exposure and damage. Patients often comment that they have not been out in the sun for years. It has been said the average American adult receives 80% of their lifetime sun exposure before age 21.

Ultimately, the goals of treatment of basal cell carcinoma are to successfully remove the cancer and provide the best reconstructive results possible depending on the situation. We would be glad to talk to you in consultation regarding your particular situation. Helpful informational websites include: www.skincancer.org, and www.mayoclinic.org.

Squamous cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. The vast majority of these are related to sun damage from a life time. Generally this sun damage is accumulated from childhood and earlier years of adult life. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin has a very wide spectrum of presentation and severity. Squamous cell carcinoma can vary widely in their history and clinical appearance.

Squamous cell carcinoma usually arises from precancerous lesion called actinic keratosis. Most squamous cell carcinomas are slow growing and easily treated. Unfortunately there are a few squamous cell carcinomas that can be fast growing, extensive, and have the tendency to spread or even travel in nerves. These more “aggressive” squamous cell carcinomas and can more often occur in immunosuppressed patients such as organ transplant patients. MOHs surgery is the most appropriate treatment for most of these cases. Sometimes additional treatment such as post-operative radiation maybe recommended. During your consultation we will evaluate your individual situation, and give you our impressions and recommendations specific to your individual case.

Melanoma

Melanoma is a cancer of pigment cells. It generally presents as a pigmented (darker than skin color) lesion; which has recently appeared, or recently changed in color, border, and or size. Often these are fortuitously noted by the patient’s physician on a routine examination or by the patient’s family and friends.

The treatment and prognosis for melanoma is largely based on the depth of the lesion found on biopsy and some other findings such as the presence or absence of ulceration, lymphovascular invasion, and perineural involvement. Surgery is the primary treatment for most melanomas. There is an elaborate staging system that is used to classify melanoma (www.skincancer.org ). The width of excision is based on this staging system. Sometimes if the melanoma is thicker (generally > than 1.0mm) a sentinel node biopsy may be recommended in addition to wide removal of the melanoma. During your consultation, we will discuss our findings, impression, therapeutic recommendations and reconstructive options.

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