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Cosmetic Procedures: Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer

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How is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?

Skin cancer is usually diagnosed by performing a biopsy. This involves taking a sample of the tissue, which is then placed under a microscope and examined by a dermatopathologist, or doctor who specializes in examining skin tissue.

How is Skin Cancer Treated?

Treatment of skin cancer is individualized and is determined by the type of skin cancer, its size and location, and the patient's preference.

Standard treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer (basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas) include:

  • Primary Excision - excision of the skin cancer under local anesthesia with a margin of normal tissue.
  • Mohs surgery (for high-risk skin cancers or skin cancers in high risk areas) – excision of cancer with immediate microscopic examination to ensure clear margins- important to spare tissue and ensure complete removal of the cancer.
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage – physically scraping away the skin cancer cells followed by electrosurgery
  • Cryosurgery or freezing
  • Topical chemotherapeutic creams

Standard treatments for melanoma skin cancer include:

  • Wide surgical excision
  • Sentinel lymph node mapping (for deeper lesions) to determine if the melanoma has spread to local lymph nodes
  • Drugs (chemotherapy, biological response modifiers) for widespread metastatic disease
  • Radiation therapy for local control of advanced melanoma in areas such as the brain
  • New methods in clinical trials

 

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