Skin Cancer - What to Expect:
Types of Skin Cancer :
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It typically appears as a small raised bump that has a pearly appearance. It is most commonly seen on areas of the skin that have received excessive sun exposure. These cancers may spread to the skin surrounding them but rarely spread to other parts of the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma is also seen on the areas of the body that have been exposed to excessive sun (nose, lower lip, hands, and forehead). Often this cancer appears as a firm red bump or ulceration of the skin that does not heal. Squamous cell carcinomas can spread to lymph nodes in the area.
Melanoma is a skin cancer (malignancy) that arises from the melanocytes in the skin. Melanocytes are the cells that give color to our skin. These cancers typically arise as pigmented (colored) lesions in the skin with an irregular shape, irregular border, and multiple colors. It is the most harmful of all the skin cancers because it can spread to lymph nodes or other sites in the body. Fortunately, most melanomas have a very high cure rate when identified and treated early.
Typically, when a patient comes in for a skin lesion, they have either discovered it themselves or they are referred by another Dr. who has detected it.
A biopsy is done, which is usually an in-office operative procedure with local anesthetic.
Occasionally a stitch is required and the patient is able to go home to wait for lab results.
Some basal cell carcinomas are removed in office under local anesthesia while others require surgical excision under general anesthesia or MAC anesthesia with flap closures. This may depend on the size and location of the lesion.
The Dr. will remove the entire growth along with a surrounding border of apparently normal skin as a safety margin. The skin around the surgical site is closed with stitches, and the tissue specimen is sent to the laboratory to verify that all cancerous cells have been removed.
Dr. Paciorek is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and uses state of the art techniques for reconstruction and wound site closure.
After Your Procedure:
After treatment, the Dr. and our highly qualified staff will monitor your condition and schedule follow-up appointments as needed.
Healing typically will continue for many weeks or months as incision lines continue to improve.
It may take a year or more following a given procedure for incision lines to refine and fade to some degree. In some cases, secondary procedures may be required to complete or refine your reconstruction.
Sun exposure to healing wounds may result in irregular pigmentation and scars that can become raised, red, or dark. Sun exposure may increase the risk of the development of skin cancer in another region of your body.
If skin cancer does recur, it is most likely to happen in the first 5 years after treatment. People who have had skin cancer are also at high risk for developing another one in a different location, so close follow-up is important.
- For basal cell cancers, visits are often recommended about every 6 to 12 months.
- For squamous cell cancers, visits are usually more frequent, often every 3 to 6 months for the first few years, followed by longer times between visits.
During your follow-up visits, any new symptoms will be investigated and you will be examined for signs of recurrence or new skin cancers. For higher risk cancers, the doctor may also order imaging tests such as CT scans. If skin cancer does recur, treatment options depend on the size and location of the cancer, what treatments you’ve had before, and your overall health.