At Yag-Howard Dermatology Center, we stress the importance of annual thorough total body skin examinations for the detection of skin cancers that you may not recognize as abnormal or that lurk where you cannot see. The emphasis of our practice is healthy skin.
You Have Been Diagnosed with Skin Cancer…. What Can You Expect?
What Does It Mean To Have Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. In fact, nearly half of all newly-diagnosed cancers are cancers of the skin. More than one million skin cancers are diagnosed yearly. Of those, about 80% are basal cell carcinomas, 15% are squamous cell carcinomas and 5% are malignant melanomas. If these cancers are treated appropriately and in a timely manner, they have a cure rate of greater than 95%. The problem arises when these cancers are neglected either because of lack of detection or lack of appropriate treatment.
How Will My Skin Cancer Be Treated?
The doctor will make recommendations on treatments based on the type of skin cancer you have and the location of the cancer. The most common forms of treatment are treaditional surgery, Mohs or modified-Mohs surgery, and electrodesiccation and curettage (ED&C), . These treatments are discussed below.
Virtually all skin cancers, including more aggressive forms of skin cancer, can be treated by surgical excision. In this procedure, the physician anesthetizes (numbs) the skin locally around the site of the skin cancer, then makes a cut through the skin down to the underlying fat layer (usually between 1/16 inch and 1/4 inch deep, depending on the location). The physician cuts out an area of skin that includes all of the visible skin cancer and a small amount of normal appearing skin around the skin cancer. Removing a small amount of normal appearing skin around the skin cancer increases the likelihood that all of the skin cancer, including any that may not be readily visible, is removed. Following the excision, the opening in the skin is closed using meticulous surgical technique to produce as imperceptible a scar as possible.
Mohs and Modified-Mohs Surgery
As with traditional surgery, Mohs and modified-Mohs surgery requires that the physician cut out an area of skin that includes all of the visible skin cancer. However, this procedure allows for the excision of a narrower margin of normal appearing skin around the skin cancer than might be done in traditional surgery. The removed skin is immediately frozen and processed for microscopic evaluation while the patient is waiting in the surgical suite. If it is determined that all of the skin cancer was not removed with the initial excision, additional skin is removed from the specific area of remaining skin cancer. This procedure is repeated until all of the skin cancer is completely removed. Following the excision, the opening in the skin is closed using meticulous surgical technique to produce as imperceptible a scar as possible.
Some less aggressive forms of skin cancer can be treated by a techniques called ED&C whereby the physician or practitioner anesthetizes the affected area, scrapes away the cancerous tissue, and burns the base of the area to help ensure that all of the cancerous tissue is destroyed.
The advantage of choosing this type of treatment (if it is an option) over surgery is that the procedure is rapid, requiring only about ten minutes to perform. Additionally, there are no sutures placed and, therefore, no need for suture removal at a later date. Wound healing ususally takes from 3-8 weeks and depends greatly on the size and location of the surgical site.
The disadvantages to this treatment include the fact that the skin cancer tissue is destroyed so that there is no tissue to send to the pathologist to ensure that the entire cancer has been removed. Also, the scar from this type of procedure tends to be round rather than linear like a surgical excision with repair.
The Importance of Excellent Surgical Technique
Dr. Yag-Howard prides herself in employing state-of-the-art surgical technique to give patients exceptional surgical results. She has perfected use of a superior suture material that is not commonly used by others in her field. Additionally, she has created several of her own unique stitching methods that contribute to her patients’ beautiful surgical outcomes and satisfaction.
Dr. Yag-Howard’s attention to details, advanced surgical techniques and forward-thinking approach to surgery are the reason she is a national speaker on the subject of skin surgery and optimizing surgical results.
The Importance of Good Wound Care
Because Dr. Yag-Howard believes that post-operative wound care is essential to achieve excellent cosmetic results and diminish any risk of infection, virtually all treatment sites are bandaged according to Dr. Yag-Howard’s very specific wound care regimen. That protocol includes application of a copper-based ointment, non-adherent gauze, absorbent gauze and a water-proof bandage that allows air, but not water, to reach the surgical site.
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