What You Should Know About Skin Cancer Treatment
If you or a loved one has just been diagnosed with skin cancer, we know that you have questions about what to do next. This is why our dermatologists are always here to provide reliable support and guidance. From the office of our Bend, OR dermatologists, Dr. Peters, read on to learn more about skin cancer and your treatment options.
When most people think about skin cancer, they think about melanoma; however, melanoma isn’t the only type of skin cancer. Two of the most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). BCC typically develops on sun-exposed areas of the skin, while SCC occurs more as a result of lifelong exposure to the sun.
What are the warning signs of skin cancer?
It’s important that you perform a monthly self-exam on your skin to check for any changes to preexisting moles and to look for new ones. Symptoms may vary depending on the type of skin cancer you have.
- A basal cell carcinoma may look more like a shiny or waxy pimple or a sore that won’t go away. Sometimes these areas may also look pale or scar-like.
- Squamous cell carcinoma often present as red, crusty lumps or growths.
- Melanoma is a dark mole that changes in shape, symmetry, color or size. Moles that become painful, itch or bleed may also be melanoma.
How is skin cancer treated?
If our Bend, OR skin doctor has told you that you have non-melanoma skin cancer, you’ll be happy to hear that this variety is highly treatable when caught early. When it comes to treating skin cancer, the goal is to remove the cancerous growth and tissue, which is why surgery is typically the first line of treatment.
The most common type of surgical treatment for skin cancer is Mohs surgery, for this method preserves as much healthy tissue as possible while removing the cancerous growth. Although this method takes longer than other surgeries, it offers the highest cure rates and it’s the most conservative option.
Standard excisions may also be used on small non-melanoma skin cancers, as well as some melanoma growths found on the body. Another procedure known as curettage and electrodessication may also be used to treat basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma in their very early stages.
With more advanced skin cancer cases, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation may be necessary when surgery just isn’t enough to effectively treat the cancer.