Winter is finally winding down, and many folks are already busy planning their summer vacations. In most cases, those vacations will involve a lot of sun, and unfortunately it’s the sun that is responsible for the majority of skin cancer cases.
DermSurgery Associates of Houston wants to remind you to be safe in the sun: use a quality sunblock and cover exposed body areas as well as possible. Also of great importance is to have annual skin cancer screenings with a licensed dermatologist.
Skin cancer treatment
If skin cancer develops, a procedure known as Mohs surgery is very often the first line of treatment. Here are some things you should know about this type of surgery.
Mohs surgery has many advantages as a treatment choice. This specialized treatment ensures complete removal of the skin cancer, and thus, decreases the chance of the cancer coming back. As such, Mohs surgery is designed to preserve as much healthy skin as possible while at the same time ensuring complete removal of all of the cancer. This is of special importance in areas of high cosmetic or functional sensitivity, such as the face, scalp, neck, hands and feet.
Mohs surgery offers the highest cure rate for patients with both major forms of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Both of these types of skin cancer are considered “non-melanoma” skin cancers, and as such, they do not turn into melanomas.
Basal cell carcinoma is a cancer of the bottom layer of cells in the epidermis. It generally will grow larger by both spreading out wider and deeper. BCC does not usually metastasize, or spread to other areas of the body, but if left untreated it can invade into underlying structures such as fat and bone.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a cancer of the cells that make up the epidermis called keratinocytes. SCC can spread locally like BCC, but this type of cancer has a higher chance of metastasizing if left untreated.
As Mohs surgery is a specialized form of surgery, it is not used for the removal of all cases of BCC or SCC. Your dermatologist will determine if you are a candidate for Mohs surgery based on where your cancer is located, as well as other factors. If your dermatologist has recommended Mohs surgery, then you should have Mohs surgery. There are virtually no conditions or illnesses that would preclude you from having it.
If you have been diagnosed with BCC or SCC, do not worry! Both types of skin cancer are extremely curable if they are not left untreated. Mohs surgery has the highest cure rate of all treatments for skin cancer, up to a 99% cure rate.
If you had a biopsy that showed BCC or SCC, but after the biopsy heals you can no longer see the cancer, you still should have it removed if recommended by your dermatologist. While the surface of the cancer may have been removed by the biopsy, more cancer cells can remain hidden under the skin. These cells can continue to grow and spread. Only surgical removal can remove these remaining cells, and only Mohs surgery uses a microscope to examine for these remaining cells during your surgery.
Contact DermSurgery if it’s time to schedule your annual skin check – and have a great vacation!
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DermSurgery Associates is a Greater Houston area dermatology practice offering cosmetic, surgical and non-invasive dermatology treatments and procedures with industry-leading physicians trained and experienced with the most current dermatology technologies and procedures. For more information, contact
7515 Main, Suite 240
Houston, TX 77030