Skin cancer occurs when skin cells start growing abnormally, causing cancerous growths. Most skin cancers develop on the visible outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), particularly in sun-exposed areas (face, head, hands, arms and legs). They are usually easy to detect by examining the skin, which increases the chances of early treatment and survival.
Almost all skin cancers start as small, low-risk lesions, but can grow and become high-risk lesions if left untreated. The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma. Melanoma is the most alarming type because it has a higher risk of invading surrounding tissues or spreading to other parts of the body (metastasis) before being detected. Squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers are more likely to be detected and treated effectively before becoming malignant.
Diagnosing cancer typically requires a biopsy, in which a small piece of skin is removed for examination under a microscope and evaluated with other tests.
There are several different types of skin cancer, and in general, the treatment plan is based on the risk of the cancer spreading to another location or growing again (recurring) in the same location. Cancers that are likely to spread or recur are treated more aggressively. Treatment options may include medications such as Aldara (imiquimod) Cream or 5-fluorouracil, or procedures including cryosurgery, excision, Mohs surgery, or curettage-electrodessication. Skin cancer is a top priority at Vitalogy, and our Board Certified Dermatologist will work closely with you to select a method of treatment best suited for your specific case.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, call 512.930.3909.