In the United States, more than 2 million people each year are diagnosed with skin cancer. Damage to the DNA of skin cells often comes from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from overexposure to sunlight or commercial tanning beds, which in turn causes pre-cancerous growths that can eventually turn into skin cancer. The mutations of DNA can cause abnormal cells to grow and form a mass of cancer or pre-cancerous cells, which must be removed. At Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, we offer several types of treatment to tend to skin cancer.
In some cases, when skin cancer is suspected in a pre-cancerous lesion, a biopsy will be performed for a sample, usually with aesthetic consideration in the case of the lesion being benign. Sometimes, further treatment will be required.
If a patient only has a few growths, they may be frozen off with cryosurgery. Cryosurgery uses extreme cold and liquid nitrogen to “freeze off” abnormal tissue by direct application to the skin and is very effective in treating pre-cancerous growths such as actinic keratosis, a condition which has several other additional, effective treatment options. When there are too many growths to freeze, Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) or topical chemotherapy in the form of an ointment or lotion to be applied to areas of growth may be recommended.
Basal cell carcinoma is an early stage skin cancer form with several treatment options, including the aforementioned topical chemotherapy. For superficial forms of basal cell carcinoma, we may prescribe a topical prescription drug but more commonly, we will recommend laser therapy for vaporization, Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), excision for cancers in low risk areas. For more difficult forms of skin cancer including melanoma and the more advanced basal and squamous cell carcinomas, an excision or Mohs surgery may be required for cancerous cells to be removed.
Mohs skin cancer surgery is an option that is chosen to avoid taking away an excess of healthy skin surrounding the cancerous area. Micrographically controlled Mohs surgery is performed by removing the skin growth in layers, examining each under a microscope until all of the abnormal cells have been eradicated. Mohs surgery is especially effective for removing tissue on sensitive facial areas and is an accurate and effective skin cancer treatment for destroying problem areas with little chance of regrowth and disfigurement.
The best treatment plan will be decided by one of DAA’s dermatologists alongside the patient. Remember that the best way to prevent skin cancer is to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays by wearing a minimum of broad spectrum SPF 30. If you are concerned with a suspicious growth, please visit us for a skin cancer body check by one of our board-certified dermatologists.