Advanced Treatment for Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma

Skin Cancer

While skin cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in Pennsylvania, the most common forms –- basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma – are highly treatable if caught early. The newest treatment for these types of cancer is called Mohs surgery, which often can be used to remove the cancer without leaving scarring. Penn Highlands Healthcare offers expert skin cancer care, including Mohs surgery, for basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and should be treated as soon as it is detected.

Skin Cancer Screening

Everyone should regularly check their entire body for spots that are suspicious due to size, shape, color, or texture. (If you don’t know what to look for, use this guide from the American Cancer Society and talk to your doctor at your next check-up.) Starting at age 18 –or earlier if you are at higher risk of developing skin cancer – you should have an annual skin check by your physician.

If you are concerned about a change in your skin, your dermatologist will take your medical history and visually examine the area. The only way to formally diagnose skin cancer is through biopsy, or taking a sample of the skin to be examined under a microscope. Biopsy can be done right in your dermatologist’s office. Your physician will let you know if the sample contained cancer cells and, if so, what kind. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma is less common but the most deadly form of skin cancer. Getting melanoma treated immediately is crucial.

What is Mohs Surgery?

Mohs surgery is considered the most effective technique for treating many basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, the two most common types of skin cancer. Sometimes called Mohs micrographic surgery, the procedure is done in stages, including lab work, in the dermatologist office in one visit. The procedure is done by “shaving” off a very thin layer of skin, then testing it to make sure there are no cancer cells around the edges. If cancer cells are detected, the doctor will shave additional thin layers until a clean “margin” is detected. This allows the removal of all cancerous cells for the highest cure rate while sparing healthy tissue and leaving the smallest possible scar.

What Skin Cancer Treatments Are Offered at Penn Highlands?

The most common and effective skin cancer treatment is surgery to remove the diseased area of skin. This can be done with cryotherapy, which involves freezing the affected skin. Surgery, however, is most frequently used to treat skin cancer.

Penn Highlands offers two types of skin cancer surgery: Mohs surgery and excision. Mohs surgery is a more technically difficult procedure that involves removing only the layers of skin affected by cancer. In excision surgery, all layers of skin under the cancer, along with a portion of healthy skin surrounding the cancer, are removed.

If you are diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, your Penn Highlands medical oncologist will create a customized treatment plan that may include surgery, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or some combination.

Find a PHH dermatologist or plastic surgeon who can help examine you for skin cancer.

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