According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
In fact, one-in-five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
Fortunately, when caught early and treated appropriately, skin cancer is usually curable.
Continue reading to discover the best skin cancer treatments in Maryland and learn all about skin cancer causes, symptoms, and diagnosis.
Skin Cancer FAQ’s
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer develops when skin cells become damaged and grow out of control. It is commonly caused by harmful UV rays and often presents on sun-exposed parts of the body like the head and neck.
That being said, skin cancer can occur on any part of the face or body, including under finger nails, palms of hands, and soles of feet.
The good news is that when detected and treated early, skin cancer is highly curable.
What Are the Different Types of Skin Cancer?
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer and accounts for 90% of cases. It develops in the basal cells and typically presents on the head and neck.
In addition, BCC is slow growing and usually doesn’t spread to other parts of the body.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma forms in the outer layers of the skin and commonly occurs as red, scaly lesions. While it is known to be more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma, it is usually very treatable when caught early.
Melanoma accounts for less than 1% of skin cancers and develops in melanocytes, which are pigment-producing cells.
Although far less common than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, it is more likely to spread and far deadlier.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Non-melanoma skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are typically caused by UV rays that damage DNA and cause mutations to develop within skin cells.
Long-term exposure to cancer-causing chemicals can also trigger squamous cell carcinoma.
While UV rays can also lead to the development of melanoma, the exact cause of this rare, but extremely dangerous type of skin cancer is less clear.
How Is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?
Because early detection is key, it’s important to conduct monthly self-exams and see your dermatologist for an annual skin cancer screening.
During a skin cancer screening, your dermatologist will perform a visual inspection of the entire body from head to toe, looking for signs of asymmetry, irregular borders, color changes or multiple colors in a single mole, diameter larger than a pencil eraser, and moles that have evolved in terms of size, shape, and color, and elevation.
If your dermatologist detects a suspicious lesion, he will perform a biopsy and send the sample to the lab for testing.
Do I Have Skin Cancer?
Like many people, you may be extremely conscious of any changes in your skin and find yourself wondering: Do I have skin cancer?
While skin cancer can vary in terms of symptoms and presentation, it’s important to be aware of what different types of skin cancer can look like.
What Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) Looks Like
Basal cell carcinoma is caused by UV rays and typically, but not always, appears on sun-exposed parts of the body, such as the head, neck, and arms.
It often looks like a flesh-colored round growth, translucent bump, or a pinkish patch of skin.
What Squamous Cell Carcinoma Looks Like
Squamous cell carcinoma is also likely to occur on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, including the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back.
SCC symptoms include a red firm bump, scaly patch on the skin, or a sore that heals and returns.
What Melanoma Looks Like
Melanoma may develop in a new or existing mole and usually stands out from other spots. As such, melanoma warning signs should be evaluated according to the ABCDE guide and may include:
A – Asymmetry
B – Irregular borders that are jagged, scalloped, or notched
C – Multiple colors within one mole including shades of brown, black, and blue
D – Diameter that is larger than the size of a pencil eraser
E – Evolution in appearance
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
There are a number of skin cancer treatments in Maryland to consider, including:
Liquid nitrogen freezes the abnormal growth and destroys damaged tissue as it thaws.
A scalpel is used to cut out the growth, as well as some surrounding skin.
Thin layers of tissue are removed and inspected under a microscope until clear margins are observed.
Curettage and Electrodessication
Cancer cells are scraped away with a spoon-shaped blade and then an electric needle is used to burn any remaining cancer cells.
Cancer-killing drugs are administered orally, topically, or injected with a needle or IV line to eradicate cancer cells.
Calibrated, low dose radiation is used to target and destroy basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma without surgery or downtime.
Which Treatment Is Right for Me?
When it comes to choosing skin cancer treatments in Maryland, patients must seek the expertise of a board-certified dermatologist, who specializes in skin cancer and is uniquely trained to perform a variety of procedures including Mohs surgery and Superficial Radiation Therapy (SRT).
Your dermatologist will evaluate your medical history and consider a variety of factors before recommending the best course of action. These include:
- The type of skin cancer you have and the location of the tumor
- Likelihood of success and predicted cure rate
- Your age and overall health
- The side effects of each treatment
- Patient concerns and goals
Once your dermatologist has developed a custom treatment plan, he will go over each option with you in great detail and answer any and all questions that you may have.
Before making a decision, allow yourself time to process all of the information provided and determine how you feel about each treatment.
What Are the Best Skin Cancer Treatments in Maryland?
Superficial radiation therapy (SRT) and Mohs micrographic surgery are among the best skin cancer treatments in Maryland and for good reason.
Superficial Radiation Therapy (SRT)
Superficial radiation therapy (SRT) is a non-surgical and non-invasive treatment for non-melanoma skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
During treatment, it employs precise, low dose radiation in order to deliver maximum energy at the skin’s surface and penetrate 5mm deep. These capabilities make SRT an extremely safe, effective, and predictable alternative to surgery.
SRT is especially well-suited to patients who have anatomically difficult lesions, such as those on the shin, scalp, or ear, and individuals who are poor candidates for surgery.
What’s more, treatment can be completed in a matter of seconds, doesn’t require any downtime, and provides optimal aesthetic outcomes.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs micrographic surgery is also one of the best skin cancer treatments in Maryland.
This is largely due to the fact that it is minimally-invasive, has an average 98 percent cure rate, and preserves the largest amount of healthy tissue for great cosmetic results.
Learn More About Skin Cancer Treatments in Maryland
If you would like additional information about skin cancer treatments in Maryland, please call our office today to schedule a comprehensive consultation with board-certified dermatologist, SRT specialist, and Mohs surgeon Dr. George Verghese.