You’ve heard it millions of times – never leave your house without applying sunscreen. This is the number one tip that any dermatologist will give a patient as a first line of defense against skin cancer. However, this blog isn’t about sunscreen. You can be the most vigilant person, dedicated to your sunscreen routine, and still receive the dreaded skin cancer diagnosis.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States today and it is broken down into three different types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. On average, more than 5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, as reported by the American Cancer Society. If you have recently received a skin cancer diagnosis, you probably have a lot of questions, and you may not be sure which questions you should ask. At Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, we continuously focus on skin care from head to toe. So, this July, we wanted to equip you with some of the top questions you should ask after receiving a skin cancer diagnosis.
Biopsies are not always necessary to confirm skin cancer if you have an experienced dermatologist or physician’s assistant who has been diagnosing and treating skin cancer for a while. Biopsies are conducted to determine if a suspicious skin lesion is skin cancer. Your dermatology provider may need to remove a small sample of the affected area to examine under a microscope to confirm the presence of skin cancer upon examination. If your provider would like to perform a biopsy, the questions below can help clarify the process.
- What will my biopsy entail?
- Describe my scar from the biopsy?
- How long will it take for me to get my biopsy results?
If your biopsy confirms the presence of skin cancer, don’t panic. The American Academy of Dermatology has reported that basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the two most common forms of skin cancer and are highly treatable when detected early on. Nonetheless, here are a few questions that may help you better understand your skin cancer diagnosis.
- What type of skin cancer do I have?
- How deep is the skin cancer, and can it spread to other parts of my body?
- At what stage is the cancer?
- Are there any other doctors or specialists that you recommend I see?
Each type of skin cancer requires a specific treatment. After you receive your diagnosis, you will want to find out which treatment protocol will best address the skin cancer you have been diagnosed with. Asking your dermatology provider the questions below will help clarify the treatment process so that you will know what to expect during each stage.
- What are my treatment options, and why is this particular treatment important for my specific type of skin cancer?
- Will this treatment completely remove the cancer?
- Is there another removal method that will leave a less severe scar?
- Are there any side effects with this treatment, and if so, how can I manage them?
- Will this treatment result in any downtime?
Post-Treatment Follow-up Questions:
After completing a treatment protocol, you will enter the post-treatment recovery phase. Post-treatment recovery encompasses more than just your recovery from treatment. It also includes prevention. This is a great time to ask your provider about any special safety precautions you will need going forward and discuss ways to prevent skin cancer from returning in the future.
- How should I best care for my treatment area?
- Is there a possibility that the skin cancer can return in the future?
- How can I prevent the development of new skin cancer?
- How often should I schedule cancer screenings?
Skin Cancer Treatments:
A skin cancer diagnosis can seem intimidating, but the good news is that many treatment options are available. The dermatologists and physician assistants at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta utilize a wide range of skin cancer treatment protocols to address each specific type of skin cancer and their symptoms such as:
- Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
- Topical Chemotherapy
- Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery
- Laser Treatments
Getting Expert Help at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta
If you are beginning to notice new moles or skin growths, don’t wait to contact your dermatologist or physician assistant. Call Dermatology Associates of Atlanta today to schedule your skin cancer screening and set your mind at ease. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more information and tips about skin cancer.