Skin cancer, the abnormal growth of skin cells, most often develops on skin exposed to the sun including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and the legs in women. But this common form of cancer can also occur on areas of your skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight like your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails, and your genital area.
You can reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting or avoiding exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Checking your skin for suspicious changes can help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages. Early detection of skin cancer gives you the best chance for successful skin cancer treatment.
Skin cancer affects people of all skin tones, including those with darker complexions.
Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs in sun-exposed areas of your body, such as your neck or face.
Basal cell carcinoma may appear as:
If you notice an irregular spot on your skin, make an appointment right away.
The good news is, skin cancer is highly treatable in the early stages. And new medical discoveries mean even some of the more resistant types are becoming more treatable than ever. Dr. Storey will recommend the best treatment option for you.
Mohs surgery involves removing the visible skin cancer and layers of adjacent skin and soft tissue to facilitate microscopic examination of the excised tissue. Meticulous maps are created to follow tumor extensions, and excisions are sequentially continued until no cancer cells are evident upon microscopic examination. The surgical wound is then repaired, or allowed to heal by secondary intention to preserve as much form and function as possible. Mohs micrographic surgery – developed in the 1930s by Dr. Frederic Mohs – offers the highest cure rates in the treatment of basal cell and squamous cell cancers of the skin. Learn more.
Cancerous growths are removed by vaporizing the top layers of skin with a laser. This technique is used for superficial basal and squamous cell skin cancers as well as pre-cancerous conditions.
Photodynamic therapy treats premalignant growths by using special drugs called photosensitizing agents, along with light, to kill pre-cancerous cells. The drugs only work after being activated by certain wavelengths of light. The process also is known as PDT, photoradiation therapy, phototherapy, and photochemotherapy.
Cryotherapy refers to a treatment in which surface skin lesions are frozen. The most common cryogen is liquid nitrogen. It is used to kill unwanted skin such as warts, precancerous lesions, or benign growths such as skin tags.
Electrodesiccation and Curettage (ED&C)
Electrodesiccation and Curettage (ED&C) is a surgical procedure used to remove certain skin lesions such as warts, angiomas, actinic keratosis, basal cell skin cancers, and squamous cell skin cancers. After a local anesthetic is placed, the surgeon removes the abnormal cells by scraping down to a layer of uninvolved tissue. Finally, desiccation (electrosurgery) is performed with a small, metal instrument used to widen the margin and cauterize the wound to minimize bleeding. The wound is left to heal without sutures and typically heals over several weeks.
Topical Prescription Medications
In topical treatments for skin cancer, a prescribed cancer-fighting medication is applied to the skin in the form of an ointment, lotion or cream. Traditional chemotherapy medications administered orally or intravenously infrequently are used in the management of skin cancers.