More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other types of cancers combined, so it’s good to know that the most common skin cancers are all curable — when they’re treated at an early stage. The most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, both of which are usually treated by the dermatologist that diagnoses the cancer. Occasionally, the cancers are too extensive and are referred to Peter Beitsch, MD, at Dallas Surgical Group specializes in treating rare and complex skin cancers, including the most dangerous of all, melanoma. If you complicated skin cancer, call the office in Dallas, or schedule an appointment online.
Most types of skin cancer are treated by dermatologists, who are extensively trained to provide comprehensive care for your skin. However, Dr. Beitsch often sees patients who are referred from dermatologists because they have a complex cancer, their skin cancer has spread, or they have a rare type of cancer.
For example, Dr. Beitsch specializes in Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and highly aggressive skin cancer. He also provides comprehensive care and conducts research studies for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Most types of skin cancer are caused by unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, whether the light comes from the sun or a tanning bed. Your cumulative exposure to UV light, as well as the number of sunburns you’ve had over the years — including blistering sunburns during childhood — influence your risk for skin cancer.
The three most common types of skin cancer are:
The most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma often appears as a red patch, a flesh-colored bump, or an open sore. Though it seldom spreads throughout your body, it can invade the surrounding tissues.
Squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common skin cancer, typically develops from skin lesions called actinic keratoses. Actinic keratosis is a crusty growth caused by UV exposure. If it’s not removed or treated, the growth may become cancerous and turn into a red bump or a small area of bleeding skin.
Although melanoma is the least common skin cancer, it causes the most deaths. Like all skin cancers, it’s highly curable when it’s diagnosed at an early stage. After it spreads, however, it’s hard to treat. Melanoma usually develops when cells in an existing mole become cancerous, but it may also appear as a new lesion resembling a mole.
Surgery is the first line of treatment for all types of skin cancer. Dr. Beitsch usually performs wide excision surgery to cut away the cancerous lesion and some of the tissue around the margins of the tumor. It’s also important to remove the lymph nodes that drain that skin, the sentinel lymph nodes. Occasionally, a more extensive lymph node dissection is needed and Dr. Beitsch has been trained in all types of lymphatic dissections.
Dr. Beitsch specializes in mapping your skin to find the lymph nodes that drain that skin. These lymph nodes are called the sentinel nodes and are the ones that’s first in line should the cancer spread. By precisely targeting the key lymph nodes, more healthy tissue is spared while your cancer is eliminated.
Depending on the type of skin cancer and its stage, you may receive other treatments, such as:
If you need expert care for complicated skin cancer, call Dallas Surgical Group or book an appointment online.