The most common form of cancer in the United States is skin cancer. About 80 percent appear of skin cancers on the face, head, or neck, where they can be disfiguring as well as dangerous, although they can be found on any part of the body.
Ultraviolet radiation (most often from the sun, but also from artificial sources like sunlamps and tanning booths) is the primary cause of skin cancer. No matter what your skin type, race or age, no matter where you live or what you do, anyone can get skin cancer.
Your risk is greater if you…
- Have skin that is fair and freckles easily.
- Have light-colored hair and eyes.
- Have a large number of moles, or moles of unusual size or shape.
- Have a family history of skin cancer or a personal history of blistering sunburn.
- Spend a lot of time working or playing outdoors.
- Live closer to the equator, at a higher altitude, or in any place that gets intense, year-round sunshine.
- Received therapeutic radiation treatments for adolescent acne.
Types of Skin Cancer
The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. While it’s also seldom life-threatening and it tends to grow slowly (rarely spreading beyond its original site), if left untreated it can grow deep beneath the skin and into the underlying tissue and bone, causing serious damage (particularly if it’s located near the eye).
The next most common kind of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma, frequently appearing on the lips, face, or ears. It can sometimes spread to distant sites, such as lymph nodes and internal organs. If it’s not treated, squamous cell carcinoma can become life threatening.
The third form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, is the least common, but it is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. If discovered early enough, it can be completely cured, however, if it’s not treated quickly, it can spread throughout the body and be life-threatening.
Diagnosis And Treatment
A plastic surgeon or a dermatologist can surgically remove most skin cancers. If the cancer is small, Dr. Jay Granzow can perform the procedure at his office under local anesthesia. If the cancer is large, however, or if it has spread to the lymph glands or elsewhere in the body, major surgery with reconstruction may be required.
Mohs surgery is a special procedure in which the cancer is shaved off one layer at a time and is tested immediately to determine the extent of the cancer margins. Mohs surgery often requires a reconstructive procedure as a follow-up once the margins are determined to be negative.
Depending on the location and severity of the cancer, the scarring may range from a small but unsightly scar to permanent changes in facial structures. Reconstructive techniques can be a simple scar revision to a complex transfer of tissue flaps from elsewhere on the body to restore the your appearance and function.
For more information on skin lesions and skin cancer removal, contact our office at (310) 882.6261.