Skin Cancer Q & A
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the abnormal, rapid growth of skin cells. As the cells grow and divide, their DNA becomes damaged and causes mutations. Many types of skin cancer are slow-growing and treatable in their early stages, but waiting too long to seek care can be dangerous.
At Pure Dermatology, double board-certified dermatologists specialize in skin cancer. The team performs comprehensive skin cancer screenings and effective treatments, including Mohs surgery.
Are there different types of skin cancer?
While there are multiple types of skin cancer, the most common are:
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma, or BCC, is the mildest form of skin cancer. These lesions develop in the basal cells in the lowest part of the epidermis (the skin’s outermost layer). BCCs may be flat, scaly, waxy, or raised and commonly appear in sun-exposed areas of skin, like the face, neck, and scalp.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC, is more aggressive than BCC. This type of skin cancer generally develops in areas exposed to the sun but can also appear in covered parts. SCCs are rarely life-threatening but can metastasize (spread) to other areas.
Melanoma is a life-threatening type of skin cancer that usually begins as an abnormal mole. It can spread to other areas quickly and damage organs throughout the body.
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
A head-to-toe skin cancer screening is the best way to diagnose the disease. During this comprehensive evaluation, your dermatologist examines your entire body. They check the trunk of your body, arms, legs, and scalp. The team also looks behind your ears, at your fingernails and toenails, and in other areas where skin cancer can hide.
If the team detects any abnormalities, they may remove part or all of the suspected lesion and send it to an outside lab for testing.
How is skin cancer treated?
The most effective treatment for BCCs and SCCs is Mohs surgery. This treatment involves removing the lesion in layers and examining each portion under a microscope. Mohs surgery ensures that all traces of skin cancer are gone while preserving the healthy surrounding tissue.
If Mohs surgery isn’t an option, the team may recommend topical treatments or surgical excision. In severe cases, skin cancer that has spread may require oncological care with radiation or chemotherapy.
Call Pure Dermatology today or schedule an appointment online to learn more about skin cancer or schedule a skin check.