A skin cancer diagnosis can be frightening, but modern advancements in medicine have made it much easier to detect cancer early and start skin cancer treatments before it can progress to later stages. No matter the type of skin cancer you have, there are multiple treatment options available to you at Orlando Dermatology in Orlando, FL. Learn more about what you can expect from your treatment process before you schedule your treatment consultation.
What Should You Expect From Skin Cancer Treatment?
The first thing to know about skin cancer treatment is that most skin experts will prefer to take conservative steps before progressing to invasive surgery. Fortunately, many non-invasive and minimally-invasive techniques can be used to eliminate and monitor skin cancer.
Your treatment will first begin with an examination for any suspicious moles or patches of skin. When a dermatologist suspects skin may have a cancerous legion, they will generally order a biopsy to diagnose the specific type of cancer before recommending treatments. Your treatment options will likely include outpatient therapies that can be completed in less than 30 minutes to one hour. Some of the most common treatment options include:
- Curettage and electrodesiccation
- Photodynamic therapy
- Deep chemical peel
- Biological therapy
- Excisional surgery
- Mohs surgery
- Chemotherapy and radiation
Which Is the Best Treatment Option?
The best treatment for you will be determined by the type of skin cancer you have and how far your condition has progressed. Cancer, either malignant or benign, that is caught in the early stages can be treated fairly easily with techniques like cryosurgery or curettage. For these treatments, a dermatologist will use liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery) or electric currents (curettage and electrodesiccation) to remove the layers of skin cells that are affected by cancer.
Typically, conservative treatments are adequate to treat early-stage cancers or benign cancers. However, if cancer has spread to large areas of skin, if cancer has returned, or if cancer is in later stages, other treatments will be recommended. The most effective surgical technique for many skin cancers is Mohs surgery, which may or may not be combined with other treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
What Should You Expect After Treatment?
After your skin cancer treatment, you will be given aftercare instructions to care for the treatment area for the next two to three weeks, which is about as long as it will take for your skin to recover. Some instructions may include keeping the treatment area dry or applying prescription ointment to facilitate healing. You may also need to avoid excessive heat, including steam, hot water, and direct sunlight until the end of your recovery period.
Will You Need Other Treatments In the Future?
Skin cancers caught during early stages have a much lower chance of returning than skin cancers caught in later stages. However, there is always the possibility of skin cancer turning up again several years after your treatment. If cancer returns, then it’s likely your dermatologist will recommend more aggressive treatments to address the condition.
The best way to know if you will need other treatments in the future is to attend regular skin cancer checks at least once a year. Skin checks will examine all of your skin, particularly areas where cancer has developed before. If your dermatologist identifies new cancerous legions, a treatment plan will be built to treat your condition.
Can These Treatments Be Used Anywhere?
Skin cancer commonly develops on parts of the body that have been the most exposed to sunlight, such as the nose, face, chest, shoulders, arms, back, and sometimes the legs. Many treatments for skin cancer can be used on virtually all areas of the body. However, the location may sometimes determine the most appropriate treatment since different areas of the body have different skin thicknesses and some treatments may not be appropriate for delicate skin.
What Are Different Types of Skin Cancer?
There are several types of skin cancer, but only four are most commonly diagnosed, many in their early or benign stages. Basal cell carcinoma is the single most common type of skin cancer and can occur in most areas of the body, particularly the head, neck, and trunk. BCC has a fleshy appearance, like a nodule or a red patch, and is most easily identifiable.
An actinic keratosis is an early form of many types of skin cancer that appears as a scaly patch of skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is another very common form of skin cancer that also begins as a scaly patch of skin that may develop into a lump. Finally, malignant melanoma typically presents as a suspicious mole or another new patch of dark skin.
Who Are Good Candidates?
The best candidates for treatments for skin cancer are those who have received a positive diagnosis from a biopsy, those who have had skin cancer before, and those who are seeking early care. These treatments are most effective when skin cancer is caught in the early stages.
Schedule Your Evaluation
It’s important to catch skin cancer in its early stages to prevent any spread or increased growth of cancerous legions. If you believe you may have a suspicious mole or patch of skin, contact us at Orlando Dermatology in Orlando, FL to schedule your consultation today.