“More than 3.6 million Americans are diagnosed with basal or squamous cell cancers every year—more than all other cancers combined.”
Non-melanoma skin cancer diagnoses dwarf all other cancer diagnoses. Thankfully these cancer diagnoses rarely are fatal. That’s the good news. The bad news is that non-melanoma skin cancer, if not treated properly, can be disfiguring. And let’s be honest, even if non-melanoma skin cancer is rarely fatal, it is still a cancer diagnosis and rarely does not mean never. And, as the article linked and excerpted below states, “Skin cancer recurrences and severe side effects can take four or more years to appear.”
Therefore it is the non-melanoma skin cancer patient’s job to determine which therapy will result in the best outcome for him/her. “Standard treatments depend on the size, type, location and depth of the tumor and the patients age.” All therapies have risks and benefits, all therapies have side effects. The challenge is to do you homework to figure out what therapy has the best chance of satisfying your specific needs.
To learn more about other evidence-based therapies that can help prevent the development of non-melanoma skin cancer or relapse, please watch the short video below:
To learn more about non-melanoma skin cancer therapies, both conventional and non-conventional, scroll down the page, post a question or a comment and I will reply ASAP.
“Before surgery, talk with your health care team about the possible side effects from the specific surgery you will have. In general, surgery may include side effects such as pain, scarring, numbness, skin stretching, wound problems, infection, and changes in appearance where the surgery was performed. Learn more about the basics of cancer surgery…
Surgery is the removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue during a medical procedure. Many skin cancers can be removed from the skin quickly and easily during a simple surgical procedure. Often, no other treatment is needed.
Which surgical procedure is used depends on the type of skin cancer and the size and location of the lesion. Most of these procedures use a local anesthetic to numb the skin first. They can be done by a dermatologist, surgical oncologist, general surgeon, plastic surgeon, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant in their clinic setting, outside of a hospital. Other procedures, such as more extensive wide excisions and sentinel lymph node biopsies, are performed in a hospital operating room with local and/or general anesthesia. This is often done for Merkel cell cancer.
Surgeries and other procedures for non-melanoma skin cancer include:
Curettage and electrodessication. During this common procedure, the skin lesion is removed with a curette, which is a sharp, spoon-shaped instrument. The area is then treated with an electric current that helps control bleeding and destroys any remaining cancer cells. This is called electrodessication. Many people have a flat scar after healing from this procedure.
Mohs micrographic surgery. This technique, also known as complete margin assessment surgery, involves removing the visible tumor in addition to small fragments around the edge of the area where the tumor was located. Each small fragment is examined under a microscope until all of the cancer is removed. This is typically used for larger tumors, for those located in the head-and-neck region, and for cancers that have come back in the same place.
Wide excision. This involves the removal of the tumor and some surrounding healthy skin and soft tissue, called a margin. How much tissue is removed depends on the type and size of the skin cancer. When a large tumor is removed, the incision may be too large to close, so surgeons may use skin from another part of the body to close the wound. This is called a skin graft.
Reconstructive surgery. Since skin cancer often develops on a person’s face, a reconstructive (plastic) surgeon may be part of the health care team. When doctors plan treatment, they consider how treatment might affect a person’s quality of life, such as how the person feels, looks, talks, and eats. Before any surgery for skin cancer, talk with your doctor about whether changes to your appearance are possible and whether there may be functional aspects that need to be considered when developing a treatment plan.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy. This surgical procedure, also called SLNB, sentinel node biopsy, or SNB, is often used for Merkel cell cancer. It helps the doctor find out whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. When cancer spreads from the place it started to the lymph nodes, it travels through the lymphatic system. A sentinel lymph node is the first lymph node into which the lymphatic system drains. Because cancer can start anywhere on the skin, the location of the sentinel lymph nodes will be different for each patient, depending on where the cancer started. To find the sentinel lymph node, a dye and a harmless radioactive substance is injected as close as possible to where the cancer started. The substance is followed to the sentinel lymph node. Then, the doctor removes 1 or more of these lymph nodes to check for cancer cells, leaving behind most of the other lymph nodes in that area. These are sent to a pathologist who analyzes the lymph nodes and then provides a report. If cancer cells are not found in the sentinel lymph node(s), no further lymph node surgery is needed. If the sentinel lymph node contains cancer cells, this is called a positive sentinel lymph node. This means the disease has spread, and further treatment, including additional surgery, may be recommended.
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