By Aman Sandhu, M.D., Board Certified Dermatologist at Texas Dermatology and Laser Specialists
It may come as a surprise to you that we are currently experiencing a skin cancer epidemic. Public awareness campaigns and prevention efforts are more visible than ever but over the past three decades, melanoma rates among males increased over 50% and incidence among females has more than doubled. It is understandable that the diagnosis of a skin cancer can be anxiety provoking but it is also important to recognize preventative steps that you can take to minimize your risk of having a skin cancer in your lifetime.
An annual checkup is an important way to spend time recognizing what abnormal growths of the skin look like to promote early recognition and intervention. Practicing healthy skin care habits like avoiding tanning and using SPF 30+ sunscreen is a way to prevent potential skin cancer. It is also a great way to avoid sunburns, which we now know can have unwelcome consequences including photodamage and premature aging.
If you have been diagnosed with a skin cancer, what is the next step?
There are multiple treatments available for skin cancer and these should be discussed with your dermatologist. Potential treatments options may include topical creams (not FDA approved), surgery, radiation and chemotherapy depending on the general health and age as well as location and type of cancer. The gold standard for the treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal and squamous cell skin cancer is Mohs surgery.
What is Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery is a highly specialized technique for removing skin cancers that has the highest reported cure rate of all treatments for skin cancers. However, treating all skin cancers with Mohs surgery is not necessary. It is typically reserved for skin cancers that grow back after previous treatment, cancers that are at a high risk of recurring, or cancers that are located in cosmetic areas when the preservation of the maximum amount of normal skin is important.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, preventative steps and knowledge about skin cancer can keep you skin happy and healthy for decades.