“Skin Cancer” as the broad group, is the most common, by far, of any cancer that we experience. There are more than 2,000,000 cases of both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma diagnosed in the United States every year. Thankfully, these two, of the three big types of skin cancer, only rarely cause problems or potentially threaten the life of the person experiencing the cancer. That does not, however, mean that it is ok to ignore skin changes that you may have concerns about. The third most common type of skin cancer, melanoma, has more significant risk to affect you than the other types. Melanoma, unlike the other two in most cases, has the potential to travel to other parts of your body and therefore, usually requires evaluation by a surgeon for that possibility. Thankfully, in coordination with our medical oncology colleagues, the treatment of melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body has changed tremendously for the better in the past few years.
What changes that you may notice should be addressed?
- Any new skin finding that is bigger than 6 millimeters (about the diameter of a pencil eraser)
- Any pigmentation that isn’t symmetric (the same on any two halves)
- Any pigmentation that has more than one color or intensity of darkness
- Any skin wound that just doesn’t seem to be healing
- Any skin change that you have concerns about
All skin cancers are best and most easily treated early…like all cancers. Therefore, it is imperative when you or your physician notice changes on your skin that are potentially skin cancer, that it be evaluated, potentially biopsied (take a piece of it to look at it under the microscope to characterize it), and address it. In the earliest of cases, this can sometimes be with a topical medication prescribed by your primary care physician or dermatologist. But often, the skin cancers are not addressed until they are too big to be reliably treated with medications. That is often when a surgeon becomes involved.
The surgeons at Montrose Surgical Associates are here to evaluate the most appropriate way to remove any skin cancers, potentially evaluate the cancers possibility of spread to other parts of your body, and close the wound in the most appropriate way, as quickly as possible. We look forward to helping you through this time in your life.