Skin Cancer Reconstruction
About Surgery for Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, with more than one-half million cases reported each year. Skin cancers can be found over the entire body and are especially common in sun exposed areas such as the face, head and neck. Individuals with fair-colored skin are much more likely to be affected than individuals with darker skin, which is more resistant to the damaging effects of sunlight.
Types of Skin Cancer
Most types of skin cancer are small and, if treated early, are usually treated with surgical removal. Small areas such as lumps and bumps which appear to be growing in size or have a “heaped up” or circular appearance are more suspicious for skin cancers.
Most types of skin cancers are benign, or unlikely to spread to other parts of the body and cause additional damage to the patient. Most of these small cancers are called basal cell carcinomas or squamous cell carcinomas.
Basal cell carcinomas are the most common and tend to occur in older individuals who have had a long history of exposure to sunlight. Again, when caught early, most of these can be treated with simple surgical removal.
Squamous cell carcinomas are another type of skin cancer and they are the second most common type. These types of cancers can become life-threatening if not treated, but most squamous cell cancers, if caught early, can be treated with simple surgical excision just like basal cell carcinomas.
Malignant melanoma is much more dangerous. Malignant melanomas tend to present as dark, irregular, “heaped up” or ulcerated spots. These must be aggressively treated and require a much more involved treatment course and much more significant surgery for removal in most cases. If treated early enough, this sort of cancer can be cured, but cases of malignant melanoma are often life-threatening.