Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common forms of skin cancer. These forms of cancer arise within the top layer of the skin and usually appear on sun-exposed areas of the body, including the face, forearms and neck, as a scaly area or bump that persists and bleeds. If detected and treated early, these cancers have a better than 95 percent cure rate. Melanoma is the most deadly form of cancer. It may suddenly appear without warning, but also can develop from or near a mole. It’s found most frequently in men 50 and older. Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, but is most common on the upper backs of men and women, and on the legs of women. It tends to spread, making early detection and treatment essential.
What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
Overexposure to ultraviolet light (from the sun and indoor tanning equipment) is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Caucasians with fair skin have four times the risk of developing melanoma as Caucasians with olive skin. People who have already had melanoma are at increased risk for developing another melanoma. People who have many moles, large moles or atypical (unusual) moles have a substantially increased risk of developing melanoma. Redheads and blondes have a twofold to fourfold increased risk of developing melanoma. A family history of melanoma increases a person’s chances of developing melanoma.
What are the risks of indoor tanning?
The federal government has declared that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as indoor tanning beds and sun lamps, as a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). Indoor tanning lamps emit UVA and UVB radiation at levels that are far higher than the sun. Now, high- pressure sun lamps emit doses that can be as much as 15 times that of the sun. Exposure to UV light is a known risk factor for melanoma. A Swedish study presents strong evidence that indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma, especially when indoor tanning begins at an early age. Medical research shows that exposure to UVA radiation is associated with an increased risk for squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, the two most common forms of skin cancer. A review of 7 studies found a statistically significant 75% increase in the risk of melanoma in those who had exposure to tanning beds before the age of 35.
How can I prevent skin cancer?
Protection from ultraviolet light may help prevent many skin cancers.
What is the treatment for skin cancer?
Early detection is essential. There is a direct correlation between the thickness of the melanoma and survival rates. Melanomas are treated surgically. In addition to the surgical removal, other treatments for basal and squamous cell carcinomas include simple excision, destruction by electrodesiccation and curettage, cryosurgery (tissue destruction by freezing) and radiation therapy in select cases.
Is Mohs surgery the best treatment option for all skin cancers?
If you have any type of suspicious skin lesion you should seek evaluation by a board certified dermatologist. If skin cancer is suspected, he or she may recommend and perform a biopsy. Mohs surgery may be recommended based on the type and location of the skin cancer, as well as other factors. If Mohs Surgery is best for you, seek out a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon and member of the American College of Mohs Surgery. All members of the FFMS are fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons who have the training and experience you can rely on.
Is Mohs surgery more expensive than other types of skin cancer treatment?
Mohs surgery has been proven to be extremely cost-effective when used appropriately, with costs similar to that of excision. Multiple journal articles published in the peer-reviewed literature support this claim.
Will Mohs surgery be covered by my insurance plan?
Mohs surgery is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare, when used appropriately. Please enlist the aid of your employee benefits and/or physician’s billing specialist to determine estimated out-of-pocket expenses.
Will Mohs surgery leave a scar?
All surgical procedures have the potential for some degree of visible scarring. The appearance of a post-Mohs surgical scar will depend on several factors, including size and location of the final defect, individual skin characteristics, and the reconstruction options available. You should keep in mind, however, that the tissue-sparing nature of the Mohs technique may result in a smaller, less noticeable scar than other skin cancer removal methods. The Mohs surgeon also may be able incorporate suture lines into the patient's natural skin lines and folds. Most scars improve in appearance naturally over time, and future scar revision techniques may be employed if necessary.
My skin cancer is in a very noticeable facial area and I am concerned about my appearance following Mohs surgery. Should I have the skin cancer removal performed by a plastic surgeon?
We would recommend removal of the skin cancer by a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon due to the histopathology component of the procedure. You may wish to discuss with the Mohs surgeon the option of having a plastic surgeon perform the closure following Mohs surgery, if this is your preference. Your Mohs surgeon's office would be able to help coordinate this type of shared treatment approach.