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Skin Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment: Know Your Options

To diagnose skin cancer, the dermatologist has to examine your skin and determine that the skin changes are likely due to skin cancer. However, further testing may be necessary to confirm this diagnosis. The dermatologist performs a skin biopsy for lab testing. The skin biopsy determines if your condition is due to skin cancer, and if that is true, what kind of skin cancer you have. To know for sure, you can consult a Bowling Green dermatologist at Kentucky Skin Cancer Center and utilize their specialist technology and facility designed for this purpose. 

Determining the Extent of Your Skin Cancer

In a case where the dermatologist determines that your condition is skin cancer, they have to know what type of skin cancer you have, whether a basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma or Merkel cell carcinoma. This requires further testing to determine.

Additional tests can include imaging tests, examining close lymph nodes for cancer, exercising nearby lymph nodes, or carrying out more testing for any signs of cancer. 

The specialists use the Roman numerals I through IV to indicate the stage of skin cancer. Stage I cancers are limited to the area it began and are usually very small. However, stage IV cancer means yours is advanced and has already spread to other areas of your body. 

The stage of skin cancer determines the treatment option that is most effective.   

What Treatment Option to Consider

The skin cancer treatment options vary depending on the stage of your cancer, size, location, and depth of the lesions. For instance, small skin cancers are usually limited to the skin surface and don’t require treatment beyond the initial biopsy, and can involve removing the entire growth. 

Ina case where your situation needs additional treatment, you can get options like:

Freezing

In this case, the dermatologist destroys early skin cancers and actinic keratones by freezing, using cryosurgery (liquid nitrogen). In this case, the dead tissue sloughs off as it thaws.

Excisional Surgery

This treatment option is appropriate for all types of skin cancer. The dermatologist simply removes the cancerous tissue together with a portion or the nearby healthy skin. It may involve a wide excision of extra skin around the tumor area if recommended.  

Mohs Surgery

This treatment option is mostly recommended for skin cancer that is difficult to treat, recurring, or large. It may be performed for squamous and basal cell carcinomas, and is often done in areas where you need to preserve as much skin as possible, like on the nose. 

In this procedure, the dermatologists remove every layer of the skin growth while examining each layer under a microscope until there are no abnormal cells remaining.  The treatment option only removes cancerous cells without interfering with surrounding healthy skin.

Cryotherapy or Electrodessication

This treatment is also known as curettage. This treatment option involves scraping away cancer cell layers with a curette. The electric needle destroys any cancer cells that remain. Additionally, liquid nitrogen can be used in freezing the edges and base of the already treated area. 

Radiation Therapy

This option uses high-powered energy beams like X-rays to destroy cancer cells. It’s a preferred option when your cancer cells are beyond surgical removal. 

Chemotherapy

The dermatologist uses chemicals to kill the skin cancer cells. Suitable for cancer cells limited to the upper skin layer. The dermatologist can apply lotions or creams containing anti-cancer agents directly on the skin. Systemic chemotherapy can even treat skin cancer that has spread to other parts of your body. 

If you suspect you have skin cancer, consult a board certified dermatologist for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.