There are no debates or exceptions when it comes to treating skin cancer. All types of skin cancer must be removed as quickly as possible.
Because melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer, many people think it’s the only type they need to worry about removing. But nonmelanoma cancers can also spread throughout your body. And even if they don’t metastasize, the cancer still keeps growing, causing serious damage and disfigurement.
At Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton, Rafael C. Cabrera, MD, FACS, provides comprehensive care for skin cancer, from full body exams to removing the cancer using a range of techniques, including the one with the highest cure rate: Mohs surgery.
Here, he explains why it’s crucial to protect your health by removing all types of skin cancer.
Threats posed by skin cancer
You’re not alone if you feel confused about when it’s necessary to remove skin cancer. Though most people know that melanoma is deadly, many aren’t aware of the dangers posed by squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas (nonmelanoma skin cancers).
Look at it this way. Melanoma causes 75% of skin cancer deaths, which means that 25% of fatalities come from nonmelanoma cancers.
Exploring the health threats caused by the three primary skin cancers is the best way to highlight why it’s crucial to seek treatment to remove them.
Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer because it usually grows quickly, spreading into the surrounding skin and then metastasizing to other body areas, often your lungs, liver, bones, and brain.
Like all skin cancers, melanoma is curable when it’s detected and removed early, before it metastasizes. But after it reaches lymph nodes and spreads throughout your body, it’s very difficult to treat.
How urgent is it to find and remove melanoma? At least 99% of people live when melanoma is removed before it metastasizes. The five-year survival rate drops to 32% after it spreads.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. If you don’t have squamous cell carcinoma removed, it becomes aggressive and invasive, growing deep into the surrounding area.
As the cancer grows and spreads, it destroys the tissues it encounters, including skin, bone, fat, and nerves. Without treatment, the damage becomes severe and disfiguring.
Though squamous cell carcinoma is less likely to metastasize than melanoma, it can invade your bones and other parts of your body and turn into a life-threatening disease.
A study published in 2022 in the International Journal of Dermatology found that squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 20% of skin cancer deaths. And after it metastasizes, its mortality rate is more than 70%.
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma — the most common skin cancer — is slow-growing and frequently removed long before it has time to spread beyond your skin. Unfortunately, this leads to the misleading impression that it’s nothing to worry about.
However, if you don’t have it removed, the cancer keeps growing, penetrating deep below the surface and potentially damaging blood vessels, nerves, muscles, and bones. Its ongoing growth is especially dangerous and can lead to death if the cancer occurs near your eyes, mouth, bone, or brain.
Though basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads, it is capable of metastasis. After it metastasizes, it has a poor prognosis and often leads to death.
Call Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton or request an appointment online to schedule a skin exam and enjoy the summer knowing you don’t have potentially cancerous lesions.