What if I have skin cancer?
If we find that you have skin cancer, the treatment is dictated by the type and location of the skin cancer on the body. Treatments range from topical medications, scraping, burning and freezing to radiation and surgery.
What if I need surgery?
There are two types of surgery generally available for skin cancer. The first type of surgery is an excision with a repair, which can be performed here in the office. During an excision, we will numb the affected area and cut out the skin cancer. You are awake for the procedure, but you will not feel pain — we will be talking to you during the procedure. After we remove the skin cancer, we will suture the edges of skin back together in a straight line, which will be your resultant scar.
It is important that you do not put tension on the wound while it is healing, as this could cause the wound to open and not heal properly. This process generally takes 30-45 minutes and, in most cases, you can drive yourself to and from the procedure.
The second type of surgery is called MOHs surgery, named after Dr. Fredrick Mohs, who pioneered this tissue-sparing surgery. MOHs surgeons are fellowship-trained dermatologic surgeons who often operate on skin cancers located on the face, ears, fingers, scalp and lower legs. These are all areas in which we want to preserve as much normal skin as possible. You will be awake for this procedure. After numbing the area, the surgeon will remove the skin cancer and a very small margin of normal skin around the cancer.
While still in the office, the doctor will look at the skin under a microscope to determine if all the skin cancer has been removed. If there is still skin cancer, the doctor will return to the wound and remove only the affected skin. Once all of the cancer has been removed, the doctor will close the skin edges and send you on your way. The duration of this procedure can vary depending on the behavior of the skin cancer. Most often, you will need someone to drive you to and from the procedure.