Receiving a skin cancer diagnosis can be frightening, but a majority of cases are highly treatable and typically have excellent outcomes. If you have already received your diagnosis, Dr. Damstetter will explain what you can expect from your treatment and what your best options are. Skin cancer patients in Glenview, Illinois and the surrounding areas can turn to Reserve Dermatology for effective treatment in a comfortable atmosphere.
Can a dermatologist tell if you have skin cancer?
Dermatologists are the experts in skin cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment. A skin cancer screening exam consists of a dermatologist looking over the entire surface of your skin to determine if any abnormalities exist. Seek consultation with a board certified dermatologist if you suspect you may have a skin cancer or changing skin growth.
What are first signs of skin cancer?
Skin cancer often appears as a small mark or bump on the skin that slowly grows or changes color with time. The spot may bleed or fail to heal completely. Symptoms may include persistent itching or burning sensation, pain, rapid growth, and irregular color or borders. Skin cancers may look like normal spots to the untrained eye, so it is important to undergo a skin cancer screening exam periodically by a board-certified dermatologist.
Can skin cancer go away by itself?
Skin cancer will not go away without appropriate medical treatment. It is important to seek immediate care with a board-certified dermatologist if you are diagnosed with skin cancer or suspect you may have a skin cancer. If left untreated, skin cancers may grow large and invade deeper tissues to create chronic wounds. It is possible for untreated skin cancer to spread, or metastasize, throughout the body and lead to death.
Can a skin cancer look like a pimple?
Some forms of skin cancer can look like a reddened pimple somewhere on the body, but often are darker than the reddish pink of most pimples.
Can you have skin cancer for years and not know?
Maybe. Some forms of skin cancer do develop gradually, although the process may not take years to reach a stage where you begin experiencing symptoms.
To make a skin cancer diagnosis, a biopsy is performed. To complete a biopsy, Dr. Damstetter will remove a portion of the growth or lesion so it can be tested in a laboratory. After a skin cancer diagnosis has been made, additional tests may be necessary to determine the stage or extent of the cancer. For example, the lymph nodes may be examined to test whether the skin cancer has spread.
Following your skin cancer diagnosis, Dr. Damstetter will explain your best treatment options. A majority of skin cancer cases are treated with excision to remove the cancerous tissues. However, other treatment options are available depending on each patient’s needs or type of skin cancer.
“Dr. Liz is truly the best dermatologist I’ve ever been to. She is attentive, kind, and genuinely cares about her patients and their overall skin health. I can not recommend her enough!!!”
“Wonderful experience here! The doctor took the time to educate me on a variety of cosmetic options and gave her candid opinion resulting in just the right amount of cosmetic adjustments! Her staff was delightful and attentive! I would highly recommend for general derm needs and cosmetic adjustments.”
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The best treatment options will vary depending on the type, size, depth, or stage of your skin cancer. Dr. Damstetter will thoroughly explain her recommendations and what you can expect through your skin cancer treatment.
Excision surgeries are common for all types of skin cancer. After using a local anesthetic to numb the area, cancerous tissue and a small border of healthy skin cells (called a “margin”) are removed using a scalpel or similar surgical tool. The ensures that the cancer cells are completely removed and cannot spread. The site is typically then stitched closed.
Cryosurgery, or freezing, is an option for removing actinic keratoses. In cryosurgery, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the cancer tissues. This kills the cancerous cells, which slough off as the skin thaws.
Curettage and electrodesiccation (also known as ED&C) involves scraping cancerous cells away in layers using a circular blade device known as a curette. Next, an electric needle is used to destroy any remaining cancer cells. This treatment is more common in basal cell carcinoma or very superficial squamous cell carcinoma cancers.
In photodynamic therapy, a light-reactive medication is applied to the cancerous cells, which are then exposed to a laser light. This destroys the cancer cells.
If the skin cancer is on the head or in a delicate location, or if it is an aggressive tumor type or quite large, Dr. Damstetter may refer you to a specialist known as a Mohs surgeon. Mohs surgery involves taking thin layers of cancerous tissue and confirming tumor clearance on the same day as surgery before closing the wound shut. It has very high cure rates and is often the treatment of choice for tumors on the head, face, hands, feet, or genitals.
Radiation therapy is only necessary in cases where skin cancer has spread and cannot be completely removed through surgery. In these cases, radiation is typically performed after surgery has removed as much cancerous tissue as possible.
Chemotherapy is used in more advanced stages of skin cancer. This involves using medications that kill cancer cells, which may either be applied topically for cancers that are limited to the surface layer of skin or administered systemically for more widespread cancer.
In a majority of cases, skin cancer treatment involves a brief surgery of some type that can completely remove the cancerous tissue in a single appointment. Before your appointment, it can be helpful to take note of any symptoms you are experiencing, make a list of any medications or supplements you take, and write down questions you may have for Dr. Damstetter so you do not forget to ask. You should also be aware of any dietary, activity, or other restrictions prior to your treatment.
Following your treatment, Dr. Damstetter can give you specific instructions regarding caring for the treatment site. This includes steps you can take to avoid infections, encourage proper healing, and avoid unnecessary scarring.
To schedule an appointment for skin cancer treatment, call Reserve Dermatology in Glenview, Illinois or contact us online.