Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting Americans, with millions of people being diagnosed with some form of the condition each year. With early diagnosis and treatment, many patients experience complete removal of the cancerous area; without early treatment, skin cancer can be deadly.
The Ohio State University Department of Plastic Surgery works in concert with expert dermatologists and skin cancer treatment experts to provide patients with effective skin reconstruction after cancer. The risks of delaying treatment for skin cancer because of the changes that cancer removal may cause in your appearance are never worth the consequences. And our specialty-trained reconstructive surgeons are highly experienced in procedures designed to restore the appearance of body and facial areas affected by skin cancer, renewing these areas with little to no evidence that surgery was ever performed.
The following information will give you some information on skin cancer and the procedures available that can eradicate the condition. Plus, you will find links to more details on the procedures we offer to reconstruct the skin after cancer removal.
Remember, the risk of developing skin cancer can be decreased by wearing protective clothing and high-powered sunscreens to limit your exposure to harmful rays from the sun, and by regularly examining every area of your body to see if there are any irregularities on the skin or growths that you may not have previously noticed. Plus, you should be screened for skin cancer on a routine basis. It is of vital importance that you see a physician immediately after noticing anything unusual about the condition of your skin.
Skin Cancer Reconstruction
Once a cancerous area of skin has been removed, the danger of cancer in that region may be gone, but the appearance of the skin may be significantly altered. Skin cancer reconstruction is designed to restore and enhance these areas with results that look natural.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are a variety of types of skin cancer, some considered more severe than others, but all dangerous. Patients should see a physician immediately if they recognize any of these symptoms, and should undergo routine skin cancer screenings. Types of skin cancer include:
Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most common type, basal cell carcinoma affects about 80 percent of patients who have skin cancer. Usually not life-threatening, this form of skin cancer is very treatable and often slow-growing. It is also rare for basal cell carcinoma to spread beyond its point of origin. However, this form of skin cancer can be extremely damaging to underlying tissues and bone if left untreated, and can be particularly dangerous if it is located near the eye. Basal cell carcinoma typically manifests as a waxy growth with elevated borders, indented in the center, and can also look like a dry, red, or scaly spot on the skin; a crusty lump; a white patch similar to a scar in appearance; and/or a bleeding sore that doesn’t heal. It often occurs in the head, face, neck, arms, hands, and other areas exposed to the sun. This type of skin cancer is common among people with a light complexion and light-colored hair and eyes.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Although squamous cell carcinoma is also a very treatable form of skin cancer, it is more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma and it can be life-threatening. It usually appears as a scaly red patch with borders that are irregular. Squamous cell carcinomas can also resemble an open sore or a wart in some cases, and may bleed if picked at or bumped. Typically appearing in body areas exposed to the sun, this type of skin cancer commonly affects the ears, face, mouth, and lips. Squamous cell carcinoma is often found in fair-skinned people. It can spread to other areas of the body, including internal organs and lymph nodes, if left untreated.
Melanoma is the most dangerous type, and results in the most deaths among people with skin cancer. Malignant melanomas often look like a mole, but there are some important distinctions: melanomas may look uneven in color and have irregular borders. They also may be wider than six millimeters in diameter. They spread very quickly. Patients who see changes in the appearance of an existing mole, or notice moles and/or skin growths that they cannot remember seeing before, should immediately see a physician for evaluation. Although malignant melanomas often affect people with fair skin, they can appear in individuals of all skin types. With early detection and treatment, patients can dramatically increase their chances of complete eradication of this deadly skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
Treatment options to remove cancerous areas of skin often involve surgery; however, some types of cancerous growths only require minor surgery and can be easily removed. Treatments to remove skin cancer include:
- Mohs micrographic surgery
- Laser surgery
- Radiation therapy
- Topical or Systemic Chemotherapy
- Topical Medication
- Curettage and electrodissection
- Immunotherapy / Biological therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
One of our reconstructive surgeons will meet with you in an initial consultation to discuss the best treatment options for your needs.
Please contact our practice for more information on skin cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and reconstruction procedures.