Skin cancers are common. A plastic surgeon’s role is to remove the cancer while trying to hide or minimize the scar. Skin cancer risk is higher in patients with fair skin and eyes, a long history of sun exposure (work outside, golf, tennis), and a family history of skin cancer. Again, skin cancer is common, and can be seen in patients as early as their 30s. Usually signs of sun damage precede the skin cancer. General signs of skin damage are: age spots, freckles, scaling patches, lesions that change in size, color, or shape, and lesions that won’t heal.
About 85 percent of skin cancers occur on the head and neck. Living in California, we have a great deal of sun exposure. Sunscreen should be worn as part of our daily routine. And don’t forget to protect your scalp with a hat. A proper skin care routine can help patients avoid this dangerous condition. Contact my Palo Alto practice for more skin care tips.
A plastic surgeon’s role is to remove the cancer while trying to hide or minimize the scar.
– Dr. Greenberg
Basal cell cancers are usually flesh colored, raised, and occasionally have a central ulceration. They are the most benign of the skin cancers. They will grow locally, but rarely spread to lymph nodes and other areas of the body. They are cured through a simple excision done in the office under local anesthesia.
Squamous cell cancers are slightly more aggressive. They tend to be flesh colored and occasionally grow quickly. They are removed with a simple surgery as well. These cancers can be more aggressive, and can spread to the lymph nodes and other areas.
Melanomas are the most aggressive skin cancers. If you have a mole that is changing in color, has color irregularity (some of the lesion is brown, some is black), has an irregular border, or is larger in size than a pencil eraser, you need to have it evaluated. Those with more than 30 moles on their body or a family history should have regular visits with a dermatologist.
The prognosis of melanoma depends of the thickness of the mole. The thickness is not something seen from the skin surface. A full thickness skin biopsy is done and sent to pathology to determine thickness. Thick melanomas can spread through the body and can be lethal. When caught early, as an atypical mole or an “in situ” cancer, melanomas are curable.