Skin cancer can be cured if detected early. There are many successful treatment options and new options are being developed every day.
Surgery to remove skin cancer is highly effective for curing the disease if the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body. There are a few different types of skin cancer surgery.
A local excision will remove the skin cancer and part of the surrounding tissue. This tissue is then examined under a microscope. A lot of times the local excision will remove all of the cancer and you will remain cancer free without other treatment modalities recommended.
A wide local excision removes a larger area of the disease and sometimes the surrounding lymph nodes. The amount of tissue that is removed depends on the size of the cancerous area.
A lymphadenectomy involves removing the lymph nodes from the area surrounding the cancer. These nodes will then be dissected to see if they contain cancer cells. A regional lymphadenectomy involves removing only some of the lymph nodes, while a radial lymphadenectomy will remove all of the lymph nodes in the cancerous area.
A sentinel lymph node biopsy consists of removing the first lymph node the cancer is most likely to spread to. The doctor will inject a radioactive substance and a blue dye near the tumor area. This substance will then flow through the lymph ducts to the lymph nodes. The first lymph node that receives the dye will be removed and examined by a pathologist. If no cancer cells were found in this lymph node, this is an indication that the cancer has not spread. No more lymph nodes will need to be removed.
When a large area of cancer is removed, a skin graft may be necessary to cover the damaged area. Skin will be harvested from another part of the body and used to cover the surgical wound.
In addition to surgery for skin cancer, other treatments may be necessary. These treatments may include chemotherapy and radiation. The side effects from these types of treatments will vary from person to person. The most common side effects from chemotherapy is nausea and hair loss.
Doctors are now testing immunotherapy as a treatment for skin cancer. The idea behind this is to stimulate the body’s own immune system to fight off cancer cells. Another method that is being tested is called photodynamic therapy. This is the use of a combination of laser light and drugs to kill off cancer cells. This treatment will make cancer cells extremely sensitive to light and they will slowly die off.
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, you need to be aware that you may need skin cancer surgery. But if the cancer has not spread, surgery may be the only treatment that you will ever need.
Skin Cancer Foundation: Mohs Surgery
American Cancer Society: Treating Skin Cancer
Fox Chase Cancer Center: Skin Cancer Treatments
University of California: Surgical Treatment of Skin Cancer
American Society for Dermatologic Surgery: Skin Cancer
Johns Hopkins Medicine: Skin Cancer
MayoClinic: Skin Cancer
American Academy of Dermatology: Skin Cancer