What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is a term for a variety of growths on the skin. Other terms are skin tumor and skin malignancy.

Are There Different Types of Skin Cancer?

Yes. The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma (sometimes referred to as basal cell epithelioma). Approximately one million new cases are diagnosed each year in this country. Another common skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. The third most common skin cancer is malignant melanoma.

Are Skin Cancers Life-Threatening?

The two most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are rarely life threatening. These tumors replace normal surrounding tissue and generally do not spread to other areas. The third most common skin cancer, malignant melanoma, can be life threatening if treated late. When discovered and treated early, malignant melanoma is curable in most cases. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas never "turn into" malignant melanoma.

How Are Skin Cancers Such as Basal Cell Carcinomas and Squamous Cell Carcinomas Treated?

There are several effective treatments for these tumors. Therapies such as freezing with liquid nitrogen, burning with electric current, surgery and radiation therapy are successful up to 95 percent of the time. For tumors that have recurred following treatment or for tumors in difficult-to-treat sites, a technique of skin cancer treatment known as Mohs surgery offers the best chance for total removal. It is this type of surgery for which your doctor has referred you to our office.