Have you or a family member recently been diagnosed with skin cancer? It's normal to feel a little overwhelmed about the next steps after a cancer diagnosis. The Melbourne, FL, dermatologists at Florida Dermatology Associates discuss what you can expect after your diagnosis and discuss treatment options, including Mohs surgery.
Information obtained from your skin biopsy and a skin examination will help your Melbourne dermatologist stage your cancer. The number assigned to your cancer will depend on its size and whether it has spread to organs, bones or lymph nodes. For example, stage zero cancer has only been found in your skin, while stage four cancer has spread to organs or bones. Staging is an important process that will help your doctor determine the best type of treatment for you.
In some cases, you may need additional tests to determine if the cancer has spread. Blood tests, X-rays, fine needle aspiration biopsies, and CAT or MRI scans are often used to detect cancer in other parts of your body.
Skin Cancer Treatment
Skin cancer treatment depends on the type and stage of your cancer, but may include:
- Topical Treatment: If your cancer is confined to the surface of your skin only, applying topical medications for about six weeks may eliminate the cancer.
- Cryosurgery: Some cancers can be removed by freezing them off with liquid nitrogen.
- Photodynamic Therapy: Blue light destroys skin cells after a medication that makes your skin sensitive to light is applied. Photodynamic therapy can be used to treat very early skin cancer or pre-cancerous changes.
- Curettage and Electrodessication: If your cancer is small, it can be scraped off with a sharp curette. After the cancer is removed, an electrocautery needle is applied to the site to destroy any lingering cells.
- Surgical Excision: Excision involves removing the cancerous area with a scalpel. It's also important to remove healthy skin around the cancer to ensure that no cancer remains.
- Mohs Surgery: Although surgical incision is very effective, it tends to cause significant scarring. Moh's surgery doesn't require removal of healthy skin around the skin cancer. Skin is removed layer by layer, reducing scarring and pain after surgery. After one layer is removed, it's evaluated under a microscope. If cancer cells are still present, an additional layer is removed and then examined. The process continues until there are no longer any cancerous cells remaining in your skin.
Mohs surgery and other techniques offer effective treatments that help prevent skin cancer from spreading. If you're uncertain about your next step, call the Melbourne, FL, dermatologists at Florida Dermatology Associates at (321) 768-1600 to schedule an appointment.