After a skin cancer is identified, the next step is to have it surgically removed, hopefully stopping it from spreading or getting worse. While several options are available, the most common surgical option is Mohs micrographic surgery. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can both diagnose cancers and perform Mohs micrographic surgery. Let’s review what this process entails.
Mohs surgery is most well-known for treating basal cell carcinomas (BCC), squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and melanoma. BCC is developed in the basal cells in the deepest layer of the top layer of the skin. Characteristics of BCC include a translucent bump, a sore that will not heal, or a reddish patch of skin. As with many skin cancers, BCC is found on areas often exposed to the sun.
SCC is found on the upper layer of the skin rather than the epidermis, like BCC. SCC is characterized by a crusted and red bump. Like BCC, it appears in areas exposed to the sun, but can also appear in areas not exposed to the sun. Melanoma begins in the cells that provide the color of our skin. Because it can spread so quickly, melanoma is often considered the deadliest of the skin cancers. It is characterized by moles on the body that have changed size, shape or color.
If you believe you have BCC, SCC or melanoma, your next step should be to head to Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute. Once there, you can receive a diagnosis. If it turns out to be BCC, SCC or melanoma, the doctors will discuss your surgical options to have the carcinoma removed and help prevent further spreading.
The first skin cancer treatment that will likely be discussed is Mohs surgery. Mohs surgery is essentially completed over and over until the skin no longer has the cancer. A dermatologist will start by providing a topical anesthesia to the layer of skin that surgery will be performed on. Next, the dermatologist will cut only around the cancer, leaving the rest of your skin intact. Once this first layer of tissue is taken, it is tested for skin cancer. This process continues until the dermatologist gets to a layer that does not test for skin cancer. Lastly, the incision is stitched up for a few weeks. You will then return to have the stitches removed and to make sure everything looks as it should.
Other surgical skin cancer options include traditional surgical excisions, such as surgical, shave or scissor techniques. A surgical excision is done on lesions deep within the skin. A scissor excision is for raised lesions. A shave excision is for lesions on top of the skin (a blade is used to shave off the skin growth). Lastly, a scissor type of instrument is used to snip around and under the lesion.
As soon as a dermatologist determines you have been affected by skin cancer, a treatment plan should be determined immediately. Whether Mohs surgery or another surgical option is decided upon, it is important that treatment is started as soon as possible to avoid spreading or further complications associated with skin cancer. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas, complete this form to work with a dermatologist at the Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute.
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