Skin cancer accounts for the most frequently occurring cancer in the United States. Those afflicted with cancer know of the fears and uncertainty that come with a diagnosis. Heartland Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center specializes in Mohs micrographic surgery, a superior treatment with proven curable results. Review below the various types of skin cancer, as well as the many treatment options available.
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Actinic Keratosis (A Precancerous Lesion)
Actinic Keratosis is considered the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer. These common lesions of the outer layer of skin are caused by life-long sun exposure. The typical lesion is a persistent, red, scaly patch most commonly located on the sun-exposed face, ears, neck, arms and scalp. Similar change of the lips is known as Actinic Chelitis. About 25% of patients with Actinic Keratosis will eventually develop Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Treatment of Actinic Keratosis with liquid nitrogen cryotherapy is usually curative, but other treatment options are available and sometimes necessary.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common malignant tumor of the skin. Most Basal Cell Carcinomas present as a flesh colored or “pearly” growth on the sun-exposed skin. Common presentations include a spot that frequently bleeds, continues to grow, or does not heal. Occasionally, Basal Cell Carcinomas may appear on the trunk as red scaly patches. Although Basal Cell Carcinomas do not metastasize (spread throughout the body), they will continue to grow and may cause extensive local damage if not treated adequately. Treatment options include excision, curettage, radiation and Mohs micrographic surgery.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin malignancy. These tumors have a number of different clinical presentations, but are frequently quickly growing palpable lesions with thick keratosis on the sun-exposed face, neck, arms and hands. With Squamous Cell Carcinoma there is a chance of local and metastatic spread, making its diagnosis and treatment imperative. About 7 cases per 1000 may be fatal. Risk factors include a lifetime of sun exposure, immunosupression (usually from organ transplants), fair skin, and some genetic disorders. Again as with Basal Cell Carcinoma, treatment with excision, curettage, radiation and Mohs micrographic surgery can be discussed with your provider.
The incident of this deadly skin cancer has continued to dramatically rise over the last 40 years. In the US, it is currently estimated that approximately 1 out of 40 will develop melanoma over their lifetime. Most experts consider exposure to sunlight, particularly in childhood, and sunburns to be a significant risk factor. Based on exam of lesion asymmetry, border irregularities, color variations and diameter biopsy, additional treatment may be warranted. Early identification is crucial as malignant melanoma is nearly 100% curable by excision in its earliest stages. Unfortunately, with progression of this disease, melanoma may spread to local lymph nodes and then important internal organs. At that point, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy as well as new and emerging treatment options may be necessary.
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Thank you for visiting Heartland Dermatology! Please contact us using our contact form, or give us a call at any one of our three locations in Salina, Hays & Great Bend.
Salina Office Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. Great Bend Office Hours: 8:00AM to 5:00PM Monday through Thursday. Hays Office Hours: 8:00AM – 5:00PM Monday through Thursday and 8:00AM through 12:00PM on Friday.