Skin Cancer—Early Diagnosis for Effective Treatment
It happens to us all—there’s a new freckle somewhere on your skin and you’re positive you’ve never seen this one before. Maybe it’s nothing, but then again, maybe it’s something. The best thing to do if you’ve noticed a spot on your skin that seems to be new, growing, or looks suspicious, is to have an examination performed by a qualified skin-care professional. At Plastic Surgery of Tuscaloosa, we are skin cancer experts, and can accurately diagnose whether that little brown spot is potentially cancerous.
Typically, a biopsy will be performed on any lesion that looks like it could have cancerous attributes, and that will determine conclusively whether skin cancer has been detected, and of what type. Early diagnosis is key to successful outcomes with skin cancer, so don’t hesitate!
If you’re concerned about a potentially cancerous lesion on your skin, a consultation at Plastic Surgery of Tuscaloosa will determine whether cancer is present, and provide you with a range of treatment options if it is. Our aesthetic surgical center is located in the North River area of Tuscaloosa, where we provide a refined, sophisticated, and discrete treatment environment. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Ross Bunch will listen carefully to your concerns and develop a diagnosis and treatment plan to achieve your desired goals while maintaining a focus on comfort and safety.
A skin cancer diagnostic screening is appropriate if you are concerned about:
- Gray or pink patches of skin in sun-exposed regions
- A family history of melanoma
- A large number of moles (50+)
- Sores that refuse to heal
- Moles or freckles that grow or change shape
- Blistering sunburn
- History of radiation treatments
- Frequent use of a tanning booth
If you’re concerned that you may have potentially cancerous skin abnormalities, don’t delay. Early detection is essential to successful outcomes.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are several common forms of skin cancer, and if caught early, most have high survival rates. The three major types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. In addition, there are many types of non-cancerous skin lesions that should also be treated by a doctor. While not typically life-threatening, non-cancerous skin lesions can sometimes cause aesthetic disfigurement and other undesirable consequences.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
This skin cancer variant typically occurs in regions that are exposed to the sun, and is the most common type of skin cancer. Fortunately, it is considered to be the least aggressive form of skin cancer, and is unlikely to metastasize. However, it can spread deeper into the skin, eventually penetrating bone and other tissues. Diagnosis is generally through biopsy. Treatment for this type of cancer is frequently tumor excision, in which the skin around the tumor is made numb, and the tumor itself is removed. Sometimes, cryosurgery is also appropriate, in which the tumor is frozen with liquid nitrogen and removed.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This second-most common type of skin cancer is also related to sun exposure, and is commonly found among those who tan or use tanning beds. The lesions tend to look like red, scaly patches of skin that refuse to heal. This type of cancer can spread to surrounding tissues, as well as to the lymph nodes. A biopsy will typically be used to confirm diagnosis. Treatment is often excision, cryosurgery, or dermabrasion, in which the lesion is “sanded” away with a special tool. Topical chemotheraphy may also be used.
By far the most rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, melanoma can metastasize and spread to other organs and regions of the body, making it the deadliest form of skin cancer and the most important to detect early. Melanoma often resembles an asymmetrical mole, and like other forms of skin cancer, is related to prolonged sun exposure. If caught early, melanoma has a high survival rate, but if allowed to progress and become metastatic, it is extremely aggressive. A biopsy will usually confirm a cancer diagnosis, with a lymphatic biopsy to determine the extent of the metastasis. Treatment will typically involve excision of the lesion, followed by radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy, depending on the location and progression of the disease.
Contact Plastic Surgery of Tuscaloosa
At Plastic Surgery of Tuscaloosa in Tuscaloosa, AL, Dr. Ross Bunch and his professional, caring staff stand out among local surgical practices for their dedication to the most advanced cosmetic and reconstructive procedures in the industry. We are well-established in the community and have built a reputation for high quality patient care and excellent customer service. Dr. Bunch is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive training and experience in microsurgery, facial and rhinoplasty surgeries, and endoscopic surgical techniques, and brings a specialized skill and artistry to every procedure he performs. Our mission is to restore form, function, and beauty to all aspects of your body so you look as gorgeous on the outside as you feel on the inside!
If you are concerned about a mole, lesion, or irregularity or if you feel a routine skin cancer screening may be appropriate, please contact our office at 205.349.0049. We look forward to speaking with you and to scheduling your consultation with Dr. Bunch!