What is Skin Cancer?

Cancer is tissue that grows at an uncontrollable and unpredictable rate. The types that are most commonly treated with Mohs surgery are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas, along with some other very rare skin cancers. Skin cancer begins at the surface of the skin and grows roots downward. What can be seen of the cancer on the surface is usually only the “tip of the iceberg.”

No one is certain of all the causes of skin cancer. Several factors, most importantly sun exposure, seem to interact together to make some people more susceptible. People with very fair skin, light or red hair, and blue eyes get skin cancer most often. Heredity does seem to play a part, with some families having more skin cancer than others. Other possible causes of skin cancer include X-ray therapy, which was given in the past for acne; old burn scars, and certain patient medicines such as Fowler’s solution and Paris Green insecticide, both of which contain arsenic.

Skin cancers can, and often do, destroy the skin and structures where they grow. A skin cancer left untreated long enough can be fatal if it invades into a vital structure. These skin cancers will not go away on their own. Though they may seem to heal over time, if untreated, they always come back bigger, and with deeper roots. While the removal of skin cancer is not an emergency, they should be removed within a month or two of diagnosis.

*Skin cancers treated with Mohs surgery usually do not spread to other parts of the body and cause death.