How We Treat Skin Cancer
At Clara Dermatology, your board-certified dermatologist will conduct a thorough skin exam using dermoscopy and will perform a skin biopsy for further evaluation of concerning growths. If skin cancer is identified, there are different treatment options depending on the type of skin cancer. Precancers can be treated with topical creams, cryotherapy, or chemical peels. If skin cancer is diagnosed, different treatment options will be made based on the type and location, these can include prescription creams, minor surgery, or Mohs surgery. We will review all available treatment options, along with their risks and benefits, during your office visit. We will also spend time educating you about healthy skin habits and lifestyle modifications to prevent future skin cancers.
Meet Our Clara Team
Skin cancer can be effectively treated when it is detected early. That’s why it’s important to schedule routine skin exams with a board-certified dermatologist. To schedule a screening for skin cancer, we invite you to contact us by calling or booking online.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by age 70. Skin cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the skin, caused by DNA damage from things like UV radiation from the sun, smoking and other chemical exposures, some viruses, and chronic inflammation. Fortunately, skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early. An experienced board-certified dermatologist can often treat skin cancers with minimal scarring and a high rate of cure. With regular skin screening, your dermatologist can often detect growths when they are at the precancerous stage, and prevent them from becoming skin cancer.
Characteristics of Skin Cancer
- Bump or sore that will not heal, or bleeds on its own
- Persistently red, scaly area on the skin
- Darkly colored or irregular appearing spot or growth
- New pink or brown/black/blue bump that looks different from the rest of your moles or bumps
Types of Skin Cancer
There are a few different types of skin cancer that can all manifest differently.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): Basal cell carcinomas are growths of abnormal cells arising from the bottom or basal layer of the skin. They can look like non-healing sores, scaly pink patches, or shiny white bumps; sometimes they can be pigmented. They most often develop in areas of sun exposure. They are slow-growing and only rarely invade deeper into the body. However, they can be locally destructive and should be removed entirely. The earlier they are detected and treated, the smaller the resulting scar.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): Squamous cell carcinomas are growths of abnormal cells arising from the upper layers of the skin. They often look like red, scaly bumps, and can arise within scars or areas with long-lasting inflammation. They are caused by exposure to UV radiation (the sun), as well as viruses, chemicals, and smoking. SCCs can sometimes grow quickly and can spread inside the body if not detected and treated promptly. When caught early, most SCCs are curable.
- Melanoma: Melanoma is cancer that develops from abnormal melanocytes, the cells that produce pigment in the skin. Melanomas can look like moles, and sometimes arise from moles. They are often irregular in shape or color and can be pink or darkly colored. Melanoma can be caused by frequent sunburns or tanning bed use, but can also develop in skin that is not regularly exposed to the sun. Melanoma is the most dangerous of the three most common kinds of skin cancer but can be curable when detected and treated early.
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC): Merkel cell carcinoma is a very rare but aggressive form of skin cancer that arises from a unique type of receptor cell in the skin. They typically appear as red or purple bumps that grow rapidly. They are thought to be caused by a virus called the polyomavirus. Typically MCC arises in patients who have fair skin, are older than 50, and have had significant sun exposure. MCC is aggressive and has a high risk of spreading through the body, so early detection and treatment are very important.