Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. It can be found in any area of the body, but a large number of them occur in exposed parts of the body e.g. face, neck, arms, and hands. Anybody can get skin cancer, but it is most common in Caucasians. Ultraviolet rays from the sun, sunlamps, and tanning booths are primary reasons for skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common, but also the least dangerous kind. It rarely spreads to distant places. When left untreated, it continues to destroy local tissue all the way down to the bone.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the next most common type of skin cancer. It can spread to distant sites. When left untreated, it can be fatal.
Malignant melanoma is becoming more common, especially in the Sunbelt area. Melanoma can come in many shapes and sizes. When treated in the early stages, the cure is complete. Melanoma can spread to distant sites through the lymph glands.
Actinic keratoses are rough, scaly, reddish or brownish patches. Sometimes they develop into squamous cell carcinoma.
Moles are generally pigmented, flat, or raised. Some moles with irregular shape and pigment may develop into melanoma. Some moles are removed for cosmetic reasons.
It is important to have the doctor examine the particular lesion and recommend the appropriate treatment. Treatment options are observation, local creams (Efudex), curettage, heat or cold desiccation and, of course, surgery. Small lesions can be removed under local anesthesia in the physician’s office. Final pathological analysis dictates any further treatment.
Often, larger lesions are removed in day surgery clinics under local or sedative anesthesia. Moh’s chemosurgery or multiple frozen sections are undertaken until all cancer is removed. Depending on the size and location of the defect, the repair can be a small scar, local flaps, skin grafts, etc.
It is very important to have regular follow-ups to detect any local recurrence of cancer. Generally, it is recommended to have check-ups every six months. You will be advised to avoid sun exposure, wear sun protective hats and garments, and above all, use good sunscreens for the rest of your life.