Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells, most commonly caused by harmful UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. It can look like a nodule, rash or irregular-shaped patch or mole on the skin. These areas may be raised, ooze or bleed easily. Luckily, this condition is highly treatable through a range of advanced skin cancer treatments.
Three Most Common Types of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It grows relatively slowly and seldom spreads to other parts of the body. However, if left untreated, it will continue to grow and may invade and destroy surrounding tissue.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. This type of cancer generally grows rapidly and often appears as a roughened area of skin that may ulcerate or bleed. Some squamous cell carcinomas have a propensity for spreading to other parts of the body.
Malignant melanoma usually appears as a brown-black growth on the skin that enlarges and sometimes bleeds. If not treated early, malignant melanoma can be life-threatening.
Skin Cancer Treatments
There are many ways to treat skin cancer, depending on what type of cancer you have. Some people respond well to creams, while others may need more specialized treatment. At Cascade Eye & Skin Centers, we offer two highly advanced treatment options.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Cascade Eye & Skin Centers is fortunate to have both Dr. Maureen Mooney and Dr. June Kim on our staff. Both doctors are fellowship-trained, board-certified Mohs micrographic skin cancer surgery specialists, among the most experienced fellowship-trained surgeons in the area. Our surgeons are renowned for their skill, outstanding success rate, and excellent cosmetic results. They operate out of our University Place location from our recently renovated Mohs surgical suite.
What to Expect From a Mohs Procedure
The highly specialized Mohs micrographic surgery requires a great deal of skill and training.
First, the area around the skin cancer is numbed with a local anesthetic. Then, the surgeon removes only the visible portion of the tumor and bandages the skin. The removed tissue is thoroughly examined under a microscope in the laboratory.
If the examination reveals that the tumor has not been completely removed, the procedure will be repeated, removing only the necessary tissue until no cancer remains.
After the cancer is completely gone, the area is repaired, typically with sutures that are removed one to two weeks after the procedure.
Benefits of Mohs Over Traditional Excision
While some skin cancer may remain undetected after a traditional excision, a Mohs Skin Cancer surgery specialist can verify that all cancerous tissue is removed before completing the procedure. Mohs micrographic skin cancer surgery is considered the best treatment for many types of skin cancer.
Superficial Radiotherapy (SRT)
Cascade Eye & Skin Centers is pleased to offer an alternative to surgical procedures for the treatment of specific types of non-melanoma skin cancer using new cutting-edge technology – Superficial Radiotherapy (SRT)
Using low-energy radiotherapy, comparable to an X-ray, SRT is designed to treat non-melanoma skin cancers that are found on the surface of the skin. This method is proven to be safe and effective as well as virtually pain and scar-free.
The radiation is delivered completely to the surface of the skin without affecting the underlying healthy tissue and cells. SRT is ideal for irradiating tumorous growths at depths of between 0.5mm and 5mm.
The entire procedure lasts only seconds for each treatment fraction, compared to surgeries and other procedures, which take hours and additional recovery time. Most insurances, including Medicare, cover the treatment due to its record for safety, efficacy and low risks.
Several sessions may be required to completely eradicate skin cancer. If your physician determines that you are eligible for SRT, they will work with you to determine a comprehensive care plan and number of recommended sessions.