Skin cancer is the most common form of human cancer. Why? Because it is mainly caused by exposure to the sun’s untraviolet rays. And, unless you’re a vampire, humans spend lots of time out in the sun.
Three types of skin cancer
Melanoma — The M word of skin cancer, melanoma forms in the melanocytes where skin pigments are produced. Melanoma is far and away the most serious type of skin cancer because it easily spreads to other parts of the body.
Basil cell carcinoma — Basil cell carcinomas form on the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. If caught early, this type of skin cancer is easy to remove.
Squamous cell carcinoma — This forms in the squamous cells, the flat cells on the surface of the skin. Like basil cell carcinomas, if detected early, these are very easy to remove.
Treating skin cancer
There are different methods for treating skin cancer, depending on the type and severity. At Deschutes, we aim to remove or destroy the cancer with the least possible scarring. Here are some of our methods:
- Curettage and desiccation — The cancerous growth is scooped out of the skin with a curette.
- Surgical excision — the cancerous area of the skin is cut out with a scalpel and the area is closed with stitches.
- Cryosurgery — Abnormal cells are frozen with liquid nitrogen. This is usually used on pre-cancerous cells that could become cancerous.
- Mohs micrographic surgery — Cancerous tissue is removed along with minimal adjacent tissue. The tissue is then examined under a microscope to see that all of the cancerous cells have been removed. If not, another ring is removed a bit further out, and the examination is repeated.
- Creams — a newer approach that triggers the body to attack itself, creams are applied to the cancerous area, inflaming the skin and triggering the body to send white blood cells to attack the inflammation. If successful, the white blood cells eliminate the cancerous cells.
If you have spots or moles on your skin, particularly if they change shape or color, these could be skin cancer. Make an appointment with us at Deschutes Dermatology and let’s take a look. Call us 541-330-0900.