You never expected to hear those worrisome words from your dermatologist, but a recent biopsy has confirmed that you have skin cancer. Even though skin cancer is very common, affecting one in five Americans in their lifetime, receiving this diagnosis likely has you feeling anxious and concerned about the next steps. As you process this news, it’s understandable to have lots of questions running through your mind. What stage is my cancer? Will I need surgery? What treatment options are available?
Taking Time to Understand Your Diagnosis
The first thing to know is that skin cancer has a very high cure rate if caught early. Over 90% of skin cancer cases are curable if treated properly. When meeting with your dermatologist and oncology team, be sure to understand exactly what type and stage of skin cancer you have. This will determine the best treatment protocol for you. Ask questions like:
- Is this basal cell, squamous cell, or melanoma?
- What stage is my cancer?
- Has it spread to lymph nodes or other organs?
Understanding your specific diagnosis will help you know what to expect during treatment.
Considering Your Treatment Alternatives
Today, there are excellent treatment options for skin cancer without requiring extensive surgery or hospital stays. After considering your diagnosis and medical history, your doctor will likely recommend one or more of these common skin cancer treatments:
- Mohs Surgery: This precision surgery method removes skin cancer layer by layer while checking margins until no cancer cells remain. This often preserves healthy tissue and has the highest cure rate.
- Excisional Surgery: This removes the tumor and some healthy tissue around it to prevent recurrence. The skin is stitched closed after.
- Cryosurgery: This freezes cancer cells with liquid nitrogen to destroy them. There may be some temporary blistering and swelling after the procedure.
- Laser Therapy: Lasers precisely destroy cancer cells with precise, controlled heat, leaving little scarring.
- Immunotherapy Creams: Medicated creams stimulate your immune system to attack cancer cells.
- Photodynamic Therapy: This uses light energy to eliminate cancerous tissue after applying a special topical solution.
- Radiation Therapy: This uses X-rays or proton beams to destroy and shrink tumors.
After considering all the options, you and your doctor will decide which treatment or combination of treatments is right for you.
Getting the Support You Need for Skin Cancer in Southern California
Dealing with skin cancer treatment can be physically and emotionally difficult. Be sure you have a good support system in place, and don’t hesitate to speak to a mental health professional if you are struggling with anxiety or depression. Stay hopeful during this process and know that skin cancer is very treatable, especially when caught early.
To explore treatments for the early stages of skin cancer, visit Skin & Beauty Center at any one of our seven locations in Southern California. Give us a call at (818) 842-8000 today to schedule an appointment.