Skin Cancer Surgery
Each year, more people are diagnosed with skin cancers than any other form of cancer combined in the United States. The most common types of skin cancer are Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) and Melanoma. Poway Dermatology has the expertise to accurately diagnose and treat your skin cancers. Our goal is not only to help our San Diego patients live free of skin cancers, but also to educate them on preventative measures, such using sun protection. If you are concerned about any new spots or were recently diagnosed with skin cancer, please consult with one of our providers to determine which treatment option is right for you.
Types of Skin Cancers
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
Basal Cell Carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer. These cancers usually develop on sun-exposed areas, especially on the head and neck. Basal cell carcinomas tend to grow slowly. While it is rare for basal cell cancers to spread to other parts of the body, untreated cancers may grow into nearby areas and invade the bone or other tissues beneath the skin. If not removed completely, basal cell carcinoma can recur (come back) in the same place on the skin. Patients with a history of basal cell skin cancers are also more likely to get new ones on other parts of their body. With early diagnosis and treatment, BCC is highly curable.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma is another common skin cancer that also develops on sun exposed areas, such as the head, neck, and back of the hands. The cells in these cancers look like abnormal versions of the squamous cells seen in the outer layers of the skin. It is possible to get squamous cell carcinomas on any part of the body, including the inside of the mouth, lips, and genitals. Squamous cell cancers are more likely to grow into deeper layers of skin and spread to other parts of the body than basal cell cancers, although this occurrence is uncommon. With early diagnosis and treatment, SCC is highly curable.
Keratoacanthomas are dome-shaped tumors that are found on sun-exposed skin. They may start out growing quickly. Many keratoacanthomas shrink or even go away on their own over time without any treatment. But some continue to grow, and a few may even spread to other parts of the body. Their growth is often hard to predict, so many skin cancer experts consider them a type of squamous cell skin cancer and treat them as such
Melanomas is the most serious type of skin cancers. They develop from melanocytes, the pigment-making cells of the skin. Melanocytes can also form benign (non-cancerous) growths called moles. Melanomas are much less common than basal and squamous cell cancers, but they are more likely to grow and spread if left untreated. When found early, melanoma is highly treatable.
Types of Skin Cancer Surgery
Cryotherapy (LN2) is a minimally-invasive treatment that treats superficial basal and squamous cell carcinomas. When applied to the cancerous lesion, the extremely cold liquid gas (such as nitrogen gas between -346° F and -320° F) instantly freezes and kills tumor cells. After the dead area of skin thaws, it will swell, blister and crust over. The wound may have fluid draining from it for a while and take a month or two to heal. It will leave a scar, and the treated area may have less color after treatment. Cryotherapy typically is a quick procedure with minimal downtime.
Electrodessication and Curettage (ED&C)
ED&C is an effective treatment to remove basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma. The first step is to curettage (scrape) the cancerous tissue using a curette. Next, dessication (electrosurgery) cauterizes the wound to widen the margin and minimize bleeding . In some cases, the provider may also use cryotherapy treat the tumor. The wound does not require sutures and often takes a few feel to heal. ED&C is a quick in-office procedure that is performed in office under local anesthesia.
Under local anesthesia, excisional surgery carefully removes cancerous lesions from the body to prevent them from spreading. This minor surgical procedure is typically recommended for small to medium sized moles or lesions on the body. Our pathology lab examines excised tissue to ensure the removal of all cancerous cells. Please consult with one of our providers to determine if excision surgery is right for you.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs Surgery is a specific type of surgery that treats and removes skin cancer. The surgery removes small layers of the cancer at a time. The surgeon examines these layers underneath a microscope to determine if caners cells are still present. This type of procedure prevents the removal of any excess skin. Mohs surgeons attend an additional fellowship to study this precise technique that offers the highest cure rate, as well as the smallest scar possible for cancer removal. Please consult with one of our providers to determine if Mohs surgery is right for you.