“Cancer” is a scary word for most people, and for good reason. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death globally, and the second-leading cause of death for people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Not all cancers are untreatable or fatal, however, and some cancers are even treatable through non- or minimally invasive means.
Dr. Daphne Panagotacos and her team regularly treats patients suffering from skin cancer, providing solutions for cancer and the scars it leaves behind on your body — and your spirit.
What’s wrong with my skin?
Your skin is your body’s largest organ. It’s your first line of defense against sickness and injury, though it is also vulnerable to sickness and injury.
Adding a moisturizer with an SPF, or sun protection factor, of at least 30 to your skincare routine is an easy way to save your skin from the harsh rays of the sun and protect your skin from signs of aging.
Aging isn’t the worst thing that can happen to your skin, though. Skin cancer is a common issue in the US, where an estimated 1 million people live with melanoma alone. Some skin cancers require extensive care and treatments that will send you back and forth to the hospital, but other types require the expertise of an experienced dermatologist.
Two common types of skin cancer can be treated at our office: basal skin carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. With over 3.5 million new cases per year, basal cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer in the US.
Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs when the DNA of the skin is damaged by ultraviolet rays, or UV rays, causing the top layer to reproduce the damaged cells at an unusual rate. Symptoms include red or pink patches, growths with elevated edges, and lesions that may ooze, bleed, or crust over. Patients with darker skin often have darker patches of cancerous skin tissue.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second-most common type of skin cancer at just under 2 million new cases yearly, and has many similarities to basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma may affect the genital area, and appears as rough or thickened skin with a wart-like appearance.
While skin cancer is treated fairly easily, as with any type of cancer, it’s crucial to seek treatment immediately. Either type of skin cancer can be disfiguring or fatal if left untreated.
How can Mohs surgery help me?
Mohs micrographic surgery, or Mohs surgery, is a specialized procedure designed with a patient’s appearance in mind. By solely targeting the problem cells, we are able to extract cancerous tissues while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy skin.
Mohs surgery is done in-office, and usually completed within a day. You remain awake under local anesthesia during the procedure, which takes small amounts of afflicted tissue until you’re safe from the threat of skin cancer. When all the offending tissue has been removed, we apply topical medicine and cover it with a sterile bandage.
You will follow up with both your primary care doctor and our team as you heal. You will receive specific aftercare instructions before you leave our office, which helps you recover and maximizes your skin’s ability to bounce back.
If the procedure leaves a scar, will I need plastic surgery?
Any surgical procedure will leave a scar. The depth and size of your scar depends on your unique case, but we will give you a reasonable expectation for what type of scarring you can expect from your procedure. With proper aftercare, you may be able to reduce your scarring.
Our team aims to not only ensure the health of your skin, but also to reduce the chance of visible scarring. With our recommendation, you may be eligible for chemical peels, laser treatments, or other aesthetic treatments that can raise your confidence and give you back some of what cancer tried to take.
This mole doesn’t look right. Can you help?
The first step to protecting your skin and your longevity is vigilance. If you see an unusual or new patch of skin on your body, contact us so that we can help you determine whether you need treatment. Not all moles are cancerous, but not all of them are given to you by your mother, either.
If you’ve noticed a change in your skin, schedule a consultation appointment with our team.