Surgery is not always the right treatment choice, such as when the patient’s health may preclude surgical options or additional treatment after surgery may be required. If skin cancer is detected early, surgery may not be needed. In such cases, one of the following treatments may be used:
Skin cancer develops when damaged skin cells cannot repair themselves and begin to grow and divide uncontrollably, forming a tumor. Skin cancer generally develops in the outermost layer of skin, usually allowing detection in its early stages.
Skin cancer most frequently results from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which harms the DNA with repeated exposure. In addition to repeated exposure to UV light outdoors, you are at increased risk of skin cancer if you:
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) – the most common form of skin cancer usually appears on sun-exposed areas (face, ears, scalp, upper trunk) and may look like a blemish that won’t heal or a shiny, pearly bump that does not go away. It may bleed if minor trauma occurs to that area. Alternatively, basal cell carcinoma my look like a rough, reddened patch. BCCs tends to grow slowly and rarely metastasizes.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) – the second most common type usually occurring in sun exposed areas but can develop anywhere on the body. They may arise from pre-cancerous lesions called actinic keratoses which are dry, scaly lesions. Typically they look like a red, crusted bump or rough scaly patch.
Melanoma – the most lethal form of skin cancer because it can spread to the lymph system and internal organs. If often develops in an existing mole or a new mole. Typically they are brown to black lesions that have uneven borders, colors or surfaces. When they appear on sun-damaged skin such as the face, melanomas may look like a brown patch or unevenly colored freckle. Self skin checks are so important to detect changes in existing moles and to spot new ones.
There is a wide range of skin cancer treatments available. Your provider will discuss the appropriate treatment based on several factors including but not limited to: