Hearing the word “cancer” can be scary. However, when it comes to skin cancer, it doesn’t have to be frightening. Although it is the most common cancer in the United States, skin cancer is highly curable when caught and treated early.
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer or a pre-cancerous spot, schedule a visit with one of our highly-skilled skin experts. At Water’s Edge Dermatology, you have the best options for curing your skin cancer. Not only are do we have many highly specialized Mohs surgeons on staff, but we are the only dermatology practice in Florida that also offers electron beam therapy as a non-surgical option for our patients. Both treatment options boast high success rates for curing skin cancer.
Types of Skin Cancer and Pre-Cancer
This is a “pre-cancer” and is usually treated with liquid nitrogen (freezing) or topical (on the skin) medications.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
The most common skin cancer diagnosed in the US. It is very curable and rarely spreads (metastasizes). Treatments for basal cell carcinoma include: curetting and electrodesiccation, excision, Mohs Surgery or radiation therapy. Occasionally, very superficial and small basal cell carcinomas can be treated with liquid nitrogen (freezing) or topical medication.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The second more common skin cancer. Generally, it is very curable and has a low risk of spreading (metastasizing) if small and flat. Treatments for basal cell carcinoma include: curetting and electrodesiccation, excision, Mohs Surgery or radiation therapy. Occasionally, very superficial and squamous cell carcinomas can be treated with liquid nitrogen (freezing) or topical medication.
This type of cancer is less common than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and must be treated aggressively. Melanoma requires immediate attention because it is an aggressive cancer that can spread (metastasize) to local lymph nodes or beyond. Treatment of Melanoma is typically managed by a team of providers specializing in Mohs surgery and radiation therapy. Thankfully, many melanomas are detected at a very early stage during annual skin checks performed by our highly skilled skin experts.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
At Water’s Edge Dermatology, we believe you should have a choice when it comes to treating your skin cancer. Whereas most dermatology practices only offer surgical options, Water’s Edge Dermatology is different. We offer our patients the choice between the standard surgical options and a non-surgical option with electron beam therapy.
Below are the most common skin cancer treatment options available to you at Water’s Edge Dermatology.
Curetting and Electrodesiccation
This procedure involves removing cancerous skin through scraping & cauterization. The resulting wounds can take 4-6 weeks to heal.
This is an in-office surgical procedure where the cancerous tissue is removed from the patient using a local anesthetic.
Named after Dr. Frederic Mohs, this surgical technique is used to treat basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma by completely removing the tumor. Mohs Surgery is most commonly used for people who have skin cancer on high-risk locations (the face, neck or hands), recurrent cancer at any site, a predisposition to multiple skin cancers or rapidly growing or large tumors.
During Mohs Surgery, layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed, immediately frozen and then examined by a surgeon under a microscope until all the cancer is gone. Once the cancer is removed, the area is repaired with stitches by the provider or a plastic surgeon, depending on the depth and shape of the wound. This process typically takes 2-4 hours. Mohs Surgery is performed under local anesthetic, adding to the safety of this procedure.
Mohs Surgery offers among the highest cancer cure rate while minimizing removal of the surrounding healthy tissue. It has been cited that the cure rate for Mohs Surgery is between 97% – 99% for basal cell carcinoma, with a lower cure rate for squamous cell carcinoma.
Electron Beam Therapy
Electron beam therapy is a state-of-the-art type of superficial radiation therapy. It is a non-surgical, non-invasive, pain-free treatment option that is highly effective at treating many types of skin cancer while providing excellent cosmetic results. Previously only available at major cancer centers and hospitals, Water’s Edge Dermatology is one of the only dermatology practices in Florida offering this state-of-the-art skin cancer treatment.
This technique uses a finely tailored electron particle beam to selectively destroy cancer cells, “melting away” the cancer and sparing normal tissues. It does not use penetrating radiation and is very different from the type of radiation therapy used to treat other cancers, such as breast, lung and prostate. Treatment is delivered in a series of gentle, two-minute sessions five days a week for a course of 3-6 weeks. The total length of treatment depends on several factors including cancer type, location and medical history. During the course of treatment, there are no limitations on daily activities. You can continue normal activities such as work, exercise, swimming, etc. throughout your treatment.
This non-surgical option is ideal for cancers located on the face, scalp, extremities or any location on the body where surgery might be challenging or where the best possible cosmetic outcome is desired. Additionally, radiation therapy is a safer alternative to surgery for patients with certain medical conditions or who are taking some medications (including blood thinners). Like other common skin cancer treatments, electron beam therapy is generally covered by insurance.
It is important to know that most skin cancers can be treated with surgery or electron beam therapy. Both options come with advantages and disadvantages. If you have received a skin cancer diagnosis and would like to discuss treatment options, please contact us at (877) 544-3880. We are happy discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment option with you and answer any questions you may have.