The majority of skin cancers can be cured, if diagnosed and treated early. To determine if a spot or lump on your skin is cancerous, your doctor may perform a biopsy or opt for immediate surgical excision.
If determined you have skin cancer, surgery is the most common treatment to remove the lesion. When the cancerous tissue is removed, the surgical team can check the tissue’s edges or “margins” to make sure all cancerous cells have been excised. This is generally performed in the doctor’s office or in an outpatient center.
A technique called Mohs micrographic surgery may be performed to excise (remove) basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. This is a very precise procedure that provides the surgeon with the best chance to remove the entire cancer, yet minimize the size of tissue removed.
During a Mohs procedure, very thin layers of tissue are removed, one after another, until the surgeon believes all the tumor is removed. The edges of each tissue sample will be analyzed to make sure all the tumor is gone. This is painstaking work for the surgeon (yet painless for the patient) but ensures the least skin tissue has been removed, so the wound is as small as possible.
In some cases, only simple stitches are necessary to close the deficit. In others, if the wound is large, your surgeon may take skin from another part of the body to cover the wound and promote healing. This is commonly referred to as “skin grafting”. The more extensive skin cancer excisions often require “tissue rearrangements” or “rotation flaps” to close the deficit. For example, if you’ve had skin excised from the side of the nose, the surgeon may rotate skin from the cheek to cover the deficit. Whether a small wedge excision, graft, or rotation flap is required will be based on the size of deficit left from the skin cancer’s excision.
Melanoma treatment is more extensive. In addition to removing the cancerous mole tissue, your surgeon might perform a biopsy of nearby lymph nodes. This provides the best chance of removing tiny microscopic metastatic cancer cells. This procedure is called a sentinel lymph node biopsy. If the biopsy is positive, the surgeon will remove additional lymph nodes, performing what is known as a neck dissection.
After surgery, no further treatment may be necessary. However, if the melanoma is of an aggressive nature, further treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy may be required. Your surgeon will discuss with you the entire treatment plan, based on the nature of melanoma present. All further questions that may arise can be answered at your consultation.
To find out more about our Skin Cancer Excisions & Closure services, visit Dr. Friedman’s office locations at 7600 E. Camelback Road, Suite #7, Scottsdale, Arizona 85251 and 903 N. Beeline Highway, Suite A, Payson, Arizona 85541, or book an appointment by calling 480-664-0125 today.
Here is an example of basal cell skin cancer that required an aggressive resection. By utilizing a rotation flap, the large deficit was able to be closed with minimal disfigurement or scarring.