What are the different types of skin cancers and the best treatment options for care?

Skin cancer is a serious issue, and can occur anywhere on the body. However, it is most commonly noticed on areas of the skin that have been previously exposed to the sun, such as the face, the neck, the chest, the arms, and the hands.

Skin cancer can develop into one of three types, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, or squamous cell carcinoma. All three of these types of skin cancers can be diagnosed, treated, and prevented with the help of Dr. Mary Lupo at the Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology.

A skin cancer diagnosis is the first step needed before treatment is planned. The type of skin cancer can be identified with a biopsy. A biopsy allows a portion of the problem area to be sent to a laboratory for testing to see if there are cancerous skin cells in the sample. If so, it is reported to the dermatologist and the dermatologist will notify the patient of the results.

Once a diagnosis has been made, patients must act quickly to avoid the spread of cancer if it is a melanoma. There may be further tests done to make sure it is not metastasizing. A patient’s prognosis will be greatly determined by many factors including the stage, type, and size of the cancer, as well as where it is on the body. Patients in good health may also have a better chance at fighting skin cancer than those who have weak immune systems or are dealing with other medical issues.

After diagnosis, the treatment is planned.  For easy basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, simple excision or topical chemotherapy are options. More severe or recurrent basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, especially those on the face, require mohs surgery.  Finally, melanoma needs an oncological or plastic surgeon to excise with wide margins and do possible lymph node dissection.

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