Statistics show that there are roughly 9,000 people in the United States diagnosed with skin cancer every day, and there are more people living with the disease than with all other types of cancer combined.
Skin cancer occurs when there is an out-of-control growth of abnormal cells that first develops in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin. Skin cancer has three main types: basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
To learn about how skin cancer is addressed, check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about its treatment.
Q: What treatments are available for skin cancer?
Treatment for skin cancer can vary and depends on factors, such as the following:
- Type of skin cancer
- Location and size of the skin cancer
- Stage (extent) of the cancer
- Previous therapy
- Current, overall health
After confirming a diagnosis and determining the stage of your skin cancer, your doctor will determine the most suitable treatment option for you.
Depending on the stage and type of skin cancer you have, your doctor may recommend surgical intervention, which is a common treatment approach for skin cancer.
The following are the most common surgical options for skin cancer:
- Mohs micrographic surgery
- Electrodessication and curettage (ED & C)
- Surgical excision
However, your doctor may also recommend nonsurgical and other types of adjuvant methods in cases when surgery is not feasible (such as in the case of metastatic skin cancer), curative, or necessary (such as in the case of low-risk and nonaggressive types of skin cancer).
Nonsurgical interventions for skin cancer include:
- Topical chemotherapy
- Photodynamic Therapy
Q: What is Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery, also known as Mohs micrographic surgery, is a precise and specialized surgical technique that is used to treat the most common types of skin cancer. Unlike conventional excision surgery, which entails eliminating the visible cancer along with a small amount of nearby healthy tissue, Mohs surgery involves gradually removing thin layers of skin containing the cancer cells, until only cancer-free tissue remains.
Q: How effective is Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery has a high success rate—up to 99 percent for even difficult-to-treat basal and squamous cell cancers. This is the highest among all types of skin cancer treatment methods. Mohs surgery effectively removes skin cancer while sparing normal healthy tissue.
Q: How long does skin cancer surgery take?
Mohs surgery usually lasts between one and five hours, depending on the complexity and stage of the skin cancer. An excision procedure is often much quicker.
Q: What is the recovery like after surgery?
Most patients experience only minimal pain after surgery, which can be relieved with over-the-counter pain medications. It is normal to experience some redness, swelling, and/or bruising (especially around the eyes), which should gradually subside within one to two weeks.
If you experience severe pain or sudden swelling, you should call your doctor immediately as it may be a sign of a complication, such as an infection, requiring prompt treatment.
Q: Will my skin cancer return?
Following skin cancer removal surgery, there is a small chance of cancer recurrence or developing another skin cancer in the future. People who have had any type of skin cancer are at an increased risk of developing another skin cancer. You should have regular follow-up visits to your doctor to check for any new skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Expert in Miami, FL
At The Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center, board-certified dermatology specialist Dr. Theodore John (T.J.) Giuffrida offers high-quality, comprehensive dermatologic care services to the residents of Miami and its neighboring areas. With over a decade of experience in the field, Dr. Giuffrida offers an extensive range of treatment options for skin cancer, and is one of the few fellowship-trained dermatologists who performs Mohs surgery in the region.
If you would like to find out more about our dermatologic care services or to arrange an appointment with Dr. Giuffrida, call us at (305) 461-2000 or request a consultation using our online request form.