Skin Cancer Screening & Treatment
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with more than a million new cases diagnosed annually in the U.S. Most of us know someone who has been diagnosed or have had a skin cancer diagnosis ourselves. The good news is the vast majority of cases respond extremely well to treatment when detected early, which is why screening for skin cancer at Ann Arbor Dermatology is such an important part of our practice. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Albert C. Cattell is one of the leading specialists treating skin cancer in Michigan as a member of the prestigious American College of Mohs Surgery.
Request a consultation online to talk with Dr. Cattell at either our Plymouth or Ann Arbor location about skin cancer screening and treatment. You can also call us at either (734) 996-8757 (Ann Arbor) or 734-455-6881 (Plymouth) and our friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you schedule an appointment.
Understanding Skin Cancer
Fair-skinned people who tend to sunburn easily are at the greatest risk for developing skin cancer, but everyone should take precautions to lower their chances of getting the disease. People who are regularly outdoors during the day, either because of work or to sunbathe, are at increased risk, as are anyone who uses tanning salons. Education is part of our mission at Ann Arbor Dermatology, helping patients understand how to prevent, recognize, and treat skin cancer.
Common Types of Skin Cancer
Listed below are the most common types of lesions and a brief description of each.
- Actinic keratoses are pre-cancerous spots that are generally caused by significant sun exposure. They are small, rough patches often found on the face, ears, neck, forearms, scalp, and backs of the hands in fair-skinned individuals. These are considered the earliest stage in the development of certain skin cancers, and some may progress to advanced stages without treatment.
- Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, typically occurring on the head or neck of those with fair skin. It may appear as a red patch, a bump, or a nodule. Although it does not grow quickly and rarely spreads to other organs, if left untreated, it can cause nerve and tissue damage. If detected and treated early, BCC has an excellent cure rate.
- Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer, and is most typically seen in fair-skinned individuals. It may appear as a firm bump, or as a red, scaly patch, typically on the ridge of the ear, the face, or the trunk. SCC can grow and become invasive, with a risk of metastasis. However, early detection and treatment of this form of cancer result in a very high cure rate.
- Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It accounts for about 5% of all skin cancers diagnosed. It results in the death of more than 8,000 Americans every year. Although it is more prevalent in fair-skinned individuals and can be hereditary, anyone can develop melanoma. It often appears as a mole or other dark spot on the skin, so it is important to be familiar with the location and appearance of existing moles or birthmarks. Early detection and treatment by a qualified skin cancer surgeon greatly improves the cure rate.
Skin Cancer Treatments
Dr. Cattell is an advocate for prevention and early detection of skin cancer, and he frequently performs screenings and evaluations for those who feel they might be at risk. He is also well-versed in numerous treatments to destroy skin cancer once it is found.
Treating non-melanoma skin cancer is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. The specific treatment is based on the size and location of the lesion or tumor, the type of skin cancer, age, and overall health. The primary goal is to remove all cancerous cells and a small amount of tissue surrounding the tumor to reduce the risk of recurrence.
Common Treatment Options
The most common treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer are:
- Mohs micrographic surgery is a precise surgery that requires advanced training and has an extremely high success rate. Cancer is removed one layer at a time and immediately examined under a microscope until no cancer cells are detected. Dr. Cattell is extensively trained in this specialty.
- Excision removes the cancerous tumor along with the surrounding healthy tissue.
- Radiation therapy is an alternative to Mohs or excision if surgery isn't an option. The treatment uses radiation to kill the cancer cells.
- Curettage and electrosurgery uses a spoon-shaped instrument to scoop out the cancer cells and electrosurgery to help stop the bleeding and kill any remaining cancer cells.
- Cryosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to destroy cancerous cells.