Florida’s fabulous outdoor lifestyle and sparkling beaches come at a price if you don’t use sunscreen. About one in 10 Floridians is diagnosed with skin cancer and Florida ranks second in the nation for new cases of the deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma.
The good news is that all types of skin cancer can be cured when they’re removed at an early stage. At the first sign of any unusual growths, bumps, or odd-looking areas of skin, don’t wait to schedule a complete skin evaluation at Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton.
Skilled plastic surgeon Rafael C. Cabrera, MD, FACS, has a well-earned reputation as a specialist in treating skin cancer. He provides exceptional care, from identifying skin cancer to performing today’s most effective and advanced removal technique, Mohs surgery.
Why skin cancer must be removed
Two of the three most common types of skin cancers can spread and turn into a dangerous disease if the tumor isn’t removed.
Melanoma poses a significant risk to your health. Though this type represents 3% of all cases of skin cancer, melanoma causes 75% of all skin cancer deaths.
Without treatment to remove the cancer, you have a high risk of melanoma spreading throughout your body. Once it metastasizes, it’s difficult to treat and turns into a life-threatening disease.
Melanoma most often begins in an ordinary mole when the cells start to grow uncontrollably. Signs of melanoma include any change in the shape, size, or color of a mole and the appearance of a new lesion that looks like a mole.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Though squamous cell carcinoma doesn’t spread as often as melanoma, it can metastasize if the tumor isn’t removed. Advanced SCC and metastasis occurs in about 5% of all cases. Without treatment, SCC grows deep into the surrounding tissues. The larger the tumor grows and the deeper it invades, the more likely it is to spread into your body.
Even if your SCC doesn’t spread, there’s another compelling reason to have it removed as soon as possible: As the cancer expands into the surrounding tissues, it damages nerves and muscles and causes disfigurement.
SCC often begins as a patch of rough, scaly skin, a condition caused by long-term sun exposure called actinic keratosis. The patches may appear tan, brown, pink, skin-colored, or red.
When to get skin cancer screening
Whether you need skin cancer screening and how often you should have it done depends on two variables: your risk of developing the disease and if you’ve already had skin cancer.
Many people schedule an initial appointment for a full-body skin exam and a risk assessment. Armed with this information, you can make a well-informed decision about how often you should have a skin cancer screening.
How skin cancer is removed
When removing skin cancer, we use surgical excision and Mohs surgery.
We recommend an excision when the tumor is small and caught early enough that you have a low chance of metastasis. An excision means we use a local anesthetic and cut out the tumor along with a small amount of skin around the edges.
Mohs surgery has a superior cure rate, boasting a five-year success rate of 99% for new cancers. A Mohs procedure, which is only performed by doctors trained in this advanced technique, begins by carefully mapping the tumor.
Then we remove the tumor together with a small margin of tissue around the edges. You relax and wait while we process the tissue in the office. We cut the tumor into thin slices and look at them under a microscope.
If we see signs of cancer cells in the margin, we can use the initial mapping to line up that area with a precise location on your skin. For the next step, we remove a sliver of skin from that exact area and check under the microscope to see if the edges are free of cancer cells.
By repeating this meticulous process, we gradually remove small pieces of skin until all of the cancer is removed. The Mohs technique ensures we eliminate the cancer while also preserving the most healthy skin.
If you have any questions or if you need skin cancer treatment, call Plastic Surgery Specialists of Boca Raton. You can also request an appointment online today.