Different types of skin cancer require different approaches to detection and treatment. We employ years of experience and all the latest methods to successfully detect and treat carcinomas, melanomas, and pre-cancerous spots.
Understanding Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is common, occurring more frequently nationally than all other cancers combined. Skin cancer is visible on your skin, so it can be detected and treated early, while small and contained in the skin.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) skin cancers are bumps that won’t heal, usually in sun exposed areas. They can peel, itch or bleed or be completely asymptomatic. At Trueskin Dermatology and Surgery, we can examine your skin to look for any skin cancer, then perform a skin biopsy (sampling) to diagnose the cancer under the microscope at a pathology lab. Also, Dr. Harrison uses dermoscopy, a handheld tool, to highly magnify your skin spots during your visit to find skin cancer in its earliest stages. Once detected, we use state of the art techniques to fully remove the skin cancer, including excision and suture the area closed, and Mohs micrographic surgery to detect all the roots of the cancer, achieve clear margins and limit the amount of tissue removed to keep any defect small.
Malignant melanoma is a skin cancer arising in a mole. Melanoma spots are commonly black, gray, white or blue in color, and irregular in shape. A melanoma spot usually looks different than a person’s other moles. Dermoscopy, used by Dr. Harrison at the bedside, magnifies the subtle changes in an early or in situ melanoma, and signals the need for a biopsy to diagnose a new melanoma. Nearly all melanomas are caught early and only require a full surgical excision to fully remove the melanoma skin cancer beyond its roots. Dr. Harrison is highly trained in the early detection of melanoma and its proper treatment.
Early detection is important in treating skin cancer. Thereby, Dr. Harrison recommends that every patient check his or her skin fully at home every month for any new bumps and discolored moles. Call the office for an appointment to have any suspicious spot checked.
Prevention of skin cancer is key. Many skin cancers are caused by the harmful UVB and UVA rays (radiation) from the sun. So, Dr. Harrison recommends smart sun protection, including wearing hats, shirts and clothes that cover our skin, and a daily zinc oxide containing sunblock (because zinc oxide stops UVB and UVA harmful sun rays). If you can see the sun, it can see you. If it is cloudy and light enough to see, the sun rays can still travel through the clouds and injure your skin.
Precancer spots (actinic keratoses) are detected when Dr. Harrison examines your skin. Precancer spots may be rough, pink and fail to heal even after you peel it off. The precancerous changes are superficial in the skin so that they can be treated with cryotherapy – freezing the spots – and with prescription strength creams whose ingredients target the faster growing precancer cells.
A skin biopsy is taken in the office to sample a spot suspicious for being a skin cancer, such as a basal cell carcinoma or a squamous cell carcinoma. A small sample is taken and sent to a pathology lab that specializes in detecting skin cancer under the microscope. The pathology report is then shared with you in the office. If skin cancer is found, then the remaining skin cancer is, in all likelihood, contained in the skin and can be removed. Dr. Harrison will review with you how to remove the rest of the cancer. At times, the pathology report shows there was no cancer – the spot had simply looked suspicious to you and to Dr. Harrison. At those times, you are grateful that Dr. Harrison is thorough and takes your concerns seriously and samples when there is a possible skin cancer in its early stages.
Excision (surgical removal) of a suspicious mole and of a skin cancer involves surgically excising around the spot and stitching the area closed. This is a skill mastered with years of experience. Dr. Harrison is respected for his expertise, artistic eye and skill in surgically creating the best surgical site for the skin to heal.
Schedule Your Skin Cancer Exam Today
Getting your skin checked regularly for any irregular or concerning spots is one of the best things you can do for your health. Contact us today to book your appointment with a board-certified dermatologist.