Treatment for All Stages of Skin Cancer
In the United States, annual medical costs to treat skin cancer accumulate to a shocking $2 billion. Skin cancer affects your skin’s outermost layer and progresses to deeper layers. UV damage causes mutations and genetic defects, leading skin cells to multiply and form malignant tumors. If left untreated, skin cancer can be detrimental to your health and even result in death. Luckily, early detection of skin cancer can prevent progression. A dermatologist will examine patients to detect early signs of skin cancer. By performing biopsies, dermatologists can determine the cancer stage and provide effective treatment.
Stages 0-1: Primary
At stage 0-1, cancer cells have not yet penetrated the surface of the skin. During stage 1, dermatologists can still treat the cancerous cells. In stages 0 and 1, dermatologists diagnose patients with Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). 250,000 new cases of SCC occur each year in the United States. SCC affects the epithelium in middle-aged and senior patients. SCC also affects the flat cells, which shed to form new cells. If diagnosed with SCC, dermatologists will recommend beginning Mohs treatment immediately.
Stage 2: Intermediate
During stage 2, cancer cells begin to spread through the epidermis, placing patients at a higher risk for further progression. Mohs treatment will target affected areas to prevent cancerous cells from spreading to the lymph nodes or deeper tissue. The dermis lies below the epidermis and contains tough connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) affects 800,000 Americans each year. BCC targets the basal cells located in the lower part of the epidermis. Basal cell cancer rarely spreads through the body; but BCC will invade bones and other tissues if left untreated. If not removed completely, Basal Cell Carcinoma can reoccur in the same area on the skin and cause more harm. Furthermore, patients with a previous BCC diagnosis have a higher chance of developing it again.
Treatment for Basal and Squamous Cell Skin Cancer
Medical professionals recommend Mohs Treatment when cancer attacks the outermost layers of skin. During Mohs treatment, a dermatologist uses a microscope to locate the affected skin. The doctor applies anesthetic before removing the affected area. The examination and removal process continues until the doctor cannot detect cancer cells. Depending on the size of the wound, the doctor may recommend a skin graft or reconstruction surgery.
Stage 3-4: Malignant Melanoma
Malignant Melanoma remains the most deadly of all the skin cancers. Patients with Malignant Melanoma are in stage 3-4 of skin cancer. According to statistics, 245 people in New Jersey die of malignant melanoma each year! Malignant Melanoma affects the deepest layer of the skin, the hypodermis. If malignant melanoma spreads to the brain, heart, liver, or kidney, the survival rate is below 30%. Patients with previous melanoma have a much higher risk for resurgence. Furthermore, patients with BCC and SCC can develop malignant melanoma if not treated.
Will Chemotherapy or Radiation Work for Melanoma?
When treating Malignant Melanoma, medical experts recommend radiation or chemotherapy treatment. Radiation uses x-rays and gamma rays to penetrate skin and destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy may also occur with palliative intent. Palliative treatment relieves symptoms while reducing pain caused by skin cancer. Experts recommend chemotherapy for skin cancer affecting the heart, liver, brain, and lungs. This treatment uses anticancer drugs designed to prevent cancer cells from growing. Finally, regional chemotherapy refers to drugs directed to specific areas in the body.
Your Skin Cancer is Our Priority
When left untreated the severity of skin cancer will progress into terminal stages. But, periodic screenings with a dermatologist can lower your chances of contraction. If you live in the North Jersey area, contact Short Hills Dermatology to set up an appointment today!