Skin Cancer Treatment Options

One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. There are different types of skin cancers with different treatment options.  

Types of Skin Cancer

There are three broad categories of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCCA) is the most common type of skin cancer.   The basal cells are found in the deepest layer of the epidermis.  This type of cancer typically appears as a growth or lesion on the epidermis. It can result from either cumulative sun exposure or extreme exposure.  BCCA rarely spreads into other areas and is rarely life-threatening.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCCA) is less common and more dangerous than basal cell.  This type of skin cancer often resembles scaly red patches or open sores on the epidermis.  As with most forms of skin cancer, squamous cell cancers are most commonly caused by cumulative exposure to the UV rays of the sun.  SCCA may occur on all areas of the body but will most likely be seen on the areas with the most sun exposure.  SCCA is more dangerous because there is a greater risk of it spreading to the lymph nodes.
  • Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.  These malignant tumors originate in the pigment-producing melanocytes in the basal layer of the epidermis. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. UV sun exposure increases the risk of developing melanoma.  Those who are genetically predisposed to the disease are most at risk.  If recognized early, melanoma is absolutely curable.  

Have questions about the various types of skin cancer and how to treat them? Contact us for an appointment.

Screening

In almost all cases, screening for skin cancer is done through visual examination.  Doctors recommend a regular self-exam to look for signs of skin cancer (such as moles that appear or change size or shape).  However, self-screening has not been shown to be as effective against melanoma.

Unusual changes in your skin or development of lesions should prompt you to see a dermatologist or other physician.  They will closely examine all areas of concern.  When indicated, biopsies for histological exam are taken for diagnostic purpose.

Treatment and Reconstruction

Treatment options should always be discussed in detail with a physician once a firm diagnosis has been made.  Treatment of skin cancers is most often performed in a physician’s office.  Choice of treatment is based on the type, size, location, and depth of the tumor, the patient’s age and general health, factoring in the need to maintain form and function of the affected area.  The various treatment options are performed with a local anesthetic.  Pain or discomfort during and after the procedures is usually minimal.

Skin cancers are often treated in a staged fashion.  The intention of stage one is to complete tumor removal, confirmed by histopathology.  Stage two might be considered as the reconstructive stage taking function and aesthetic concerns into account.

If you have questions about the various types of skin cancers and how Virginia ENT can assist with treatment and/or reconstruction, contact us to request an appointment.