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A Clinic of North Idaho Dermatology

Skin Cancer

Treatment For Skin Cancers

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BBC) is not just the most common form of skin cancer, but it is also the most common form of cancer in general. BCC is usually caused by chronic exposure to sunlight, particularly if the exposure results in sunburns. For that reason, BCC tends to form in those areas of the body that commonly get the most sun exposure, including the face, shoulders, and back. Those who have fair skin, blonde or red hair, and light colored eyes are at a higher risk for developing this form of cancer. Fortunately, BCC is slow forming and rarely metastasizes, making it easier to treat when caught early enough.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is another serious form of skin cancer, and is the second nost commonly diagnosed form. When left untreated, SCC can end up penetrating the underlying tissue of the body, which can lead to some disfigurement and metastisization, which has the potential to be fatal. Like with most forms of skin cancer, SCC is generally caused by exposure to sunlight and forms in the areas most commonly exposed. SCC can be identified by wart-like growths, open sores, and scaly clusters that tend to bleed on affected areas of the skin.

Both BCC and SCC can be can be treated using a variety of methods, including topical medications, scraping affected skin with a curette, tumor desiccation using a special needle, excision and Mohs surgeries, radiation, and cryotherapy.

 

Actinic Kerotosis (AKs)

AKs affect around 58 million Americans, and is a condition that has the potential to become SCC in about 10 percent of patients, though it normally remains a benign. Unfortunately, there is no way for doctors to determine which AKs may be predisposed to become SCC, making it important to monitor them with frequent skin exams over a period of time.

What are Actinic Karatoses (AKs)?

AKs are also commonly known as sun spots; they are rough-textures, dry, and scaly patches of skin, that form from overexposure to the sun's harmful UV rays. They mostly appear on those areas of the body that frequently get exposed to sunlight, though they may occasionally appear in other areas as well. In terms of color and size, these spots are usually a reddish brown and can be anywhere from the size of a pinhead to bigger than a quarter.

Blu-U Treatment for AKs

A fairly common form of treatment for AKs involve a special form of light treatment called BLU-U treatment, in combination with special topical creams meant to help make the affected skin more susceptible to the light. This combination of products is supposed to help destroy the AKs, making the likelihood of them becoming worse decreases.

First, a special topical solution called Levulan Kerastick, is applied to the AK to be treated. This solution is then absorbed by the skin, making it more sensitive to light. The AK is then exposed to a special light, known as a BLU-U Light Illuminator, which will destroy the cells in the AK, killing it off.

For information about Mohs micrographic surgery for skin cancer, Click Here. 

Melanoma

Watch an amazing video about Malignant Melanoma called “Dear 16-year-old Me” by clicking here.

While Melanoma is not the most common form of skin cancer--making up about 4 percent of cases if skin cancer--it is considered to be the most lethal form of skin cancer and can have a truly devastating affect on your life. Currently, Idaho has the 8th highest rate of melanoma, as well as the highest death rate in the nation.

Melanoma first bwgins to form in the skin cells responsible for making melanin, that gives the skin color. The melanin in cells also helps to protect the deeper layers of skin from the sun's harmful UV-rays. If the skin receives too much of these rays, then the melanocyte cells can begin growing abnormally and become cancerous melanoma.

Like with any form of skin cancer, melanoma can appear in virtually any part of the body, but it is most commonly seen above the waist in men and on the lower legs of women. Fortunately, when caught in the early stages and treated properly, the recovery rate is very high. However, if the melanoma is allowed to spread to other parts of the body, it becomes much more difficult to treat.

Those with a family history of melanoma are at a higher risk of developing it themselves, particularly if they suffered from severe and blistering sunburns as a child or teenager. Having fair eyes, skin, and freckles can also make a person more susceptible to melanoma. This form of cancer is usually diagnosed through a biopsy of the skin in question, which is looked at carefully under a microscope.

When it comes to early treatment, surgical is usually the first and only form of treatment for melanoma. However, in the later stages of the disease, adjuvant treatments like immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy may be necessary. Should the melanoma spread to other parts of the body or your organs, there is no way to cure it. That is why it is important to stay aware of changes in your skin so treatment can begin sooner.

To read an article on Melanoma by Dr. Stephen D. Craig, Click Here.

For information about Mohs micrographic surgery for skin cancer, Click Here.