Comprehensive skin cancer treatment saves complexions and lives in Miami, FL
Skin cancer is very common. By the age of 70, one of every five Americans will have developed at least one cancerous spot. That does not mean it is trivial. Melanoma will claim the lives of more than 7,000 people this year, and other forms of cancer can be deadly, as well. While the majority of skin cancers can be treated successfully, diagnosis is always to be taken seriously and warrants skin cancer treatment from a Board-certified plastic surgeon. In Miami, FL, Dr. Nirmal Nathan urges a comprehensive approach.
Types of skin cancer – an overview
There are thousands of documented dermatologic conditions. Since the outward appearance of skin cancer spots mimics many of them, accurate evaluation by a qualified medical professional is essential. However, everyone should have a working knowledge of skin cancer.
Cancer can be broadly defined as cells with mutated DNA that multiply quickly. This abnormal cell growth may form lumps or tumors, or diseased tissue, or circulate freely through bodily systems.
Skin cancers usually present as lesions, developing in the epidermis, or top layer of skin. Although deeper skin strata are separated from the epidermis, as skin cancer advances, it compromises this membrane and becomes more involved.
The basal layer is the innermost portion of the epidermis. It contains small, round cells which continually germinate (divide). New cells push old ones to the surface where they flatten and are eventually shed. Melanocytes reside within the basal layer. They produce melanin, the pigment which gives skin its color, and which creates some birthmarks, freckles, and other forms of hyperpigmentation. Basal cell carcinomas account for about 80 percent of skin cancers. They commonly show up on areas of the body which get a lot of sun exposure, such as head and neck.
Basal cell carcinomas usually start as domed growths – pearly pink, brown, or dark – with noticeable blood vessels. At this stage, a basal cell carcinoma is easily mistaken for a mole. They tend to develop into hard bumps with a waxy or slightly scaly texture, and have rolled edges. These cancers bleed easily.
Though basal cell carcinomas are rarely aggressive or deadly, without treatment they can be quite disfiguring as the cancer invades bone and other tissues beneath skin.
- Back of neck
- Backs of the hands
- In existing scars
- Where skin is chronically irritated
- Sometimes the genital area
Actinic keratosis may be a precursor of squamous cell carcinoma. A squamous cell carcinoma is generally flat, and brown or reddish in color, with a crusted, rough surface. This type of skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body, and thus be life-threatening.
Melanoma is the one of the most serious forms of skin cancer, and may metastasize (spread) to other organs. Though less common than basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas, new cases diagnosed is expected to rise by nearly eight percent this year (according to the Skin Cancer Foundation).
While melanoma can develop in eyes, intestines, or any part of the body with pigmented cells, it most often appears on skin, where it looks much like a harmless mole.
- Asymmetrical – Halves of a melanoma are not identical.
- Irregular border – The edge is blurred, notched, or ragged rather than a smooth outline.
- Unusual color – Areas of blue, gray, white, red, or pink are suspicious, as are multiple shades of tan, brown, and black in one lesion.
- Large diameter – A melanoma can be tiny, but most are larger in diameter than a pea.
- Evolving – A melanoma may transform quickly, changing in size, shape, or color. It could become lumpy, hard, itchy, painful, or tender. The lesion may ooze or bleed.
Less common forms of skin cancer (Merkel cell carcinoma, mast cell cancer, Kaposi sarcoma, and others) are not easily identifiable to a non-medical professional.
Prevention and early detection
You have taken an important step toward maintaining health and appearance by learning the above signs of skin cancer. Your next move is to team up with a qualified doctor to monitor your skin for changes.
Begin with a full body skin cancer check. The doctor examines your skin from head to toe. He charts existing spots, noting location, shape, size, and color. This “map” serves as a baseline to evaluate changes, at each annual re-screening.
During your initial evaluation, you receive instruction on performing monthly self-checks. The doctor shows you how to use a mirror to watch for new moles, or anything changing about known spots.
It is important to schedule an appointment right away, bringing such issues to the doctor’s attention promptly. Dr. Nathan may perform a biopsy if recommended by a dermatologist. Biopsy entails removal of a small tissue sample for laboratory testing to make an accurate determination whether the spot is cancerous, and if so, which type of cancer is present. That information is vital in designing a successful treatment plan. Dr. Nathan works extensively with dermatologists across South Florida to make sure your treatment follows established standards of care.
You may choose to see a Board-certified dermatologist for annual skin cancer screening and evaluation of concerns. However, Dr. Nathan is uniquely qualified to remove cancerous growths, and make necessary cosmetic repairs.
The overarching objective of skin cancer treatment is to cure and halt progression of the disease. That is accomplished by removing abnormal tissues, and in some cases a measure of healthy surrounding tissue. Being as sure as possible that all cancerous cells are eliminated helps to avoid recurrence of the cancer or it metastasizing. The doctor may suggest laser treatment for cancer, surgical excision, Mohs micrographic surgery, or other therapies, depending on your specific situation.
The secondary objection of treatment is tremendously important to your emotional well being. Plastic surgery may be necessary after skin cancer removal to ensure a good cosmetic result. This is especially true of skin cancers on the nose, ears, lips, and eyelids. Dr. Nathan strives to preserve healthy skin, with minimal scarring. He uses advanced plastic surgery techniques for reduced destruction of healthy tissue, resulting in a smaller wound that heals more readily. In addition, he has focused training and experience in reconstructive procedures for complex cases.
A diagnosis of skin cancer is always unsettling. It makes sense to involve Dr. Nathan’s expertise, as a plastic surgeon in Miami, FL, for skin cancer treatment with less stress. At The Nathan Clinic, our team will coordinate your care and ensure that you are treated quickly and appropriately.
Schedule your appointment for screening or skin cancer treatment. The number for our Miami, FL office is (305) 680-5121.