Dedicated to Excellence in Patient Care & Education.
The most dangerous form of skin cancer, these cancerous growths develop when damaged skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine or tanning beds) triggers mutations that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease.
A biopsy is a small sampling of the skin tissue. The area is numbed with local anesthetic and then a small piece of tissue is removed. Depending on the type of biopsy taken, sometimes sutures are required. Once proven by biopsy to be a Basal Cell Carcinoma, there are several treatment options, depending on the specific type of Basal Cell Carcinoma.
Using a scalpel, the physician removes the entire growth along with a surrounding border of apparently normal skin as a safety margin. The skin around the surgical site is closed with stitches, and the tissue specimen is sent to the laboratory to verify that all cancerous cells have been removed. Cure rates are generally above 95 percent in most body areas, similar to those of curettage and electrodesiccation. A repeat excision may be necessary on a subsequent occasion if evidence of skin cancer is found in the specimen.
A physician trained in Mohs micrographic surgery removes a thin layer of tissue containing the tumor. While the patient waits, frozen sections of this excised layer are mapped in detail and examined under a microscope, generally in an on-site laboratory. If cancer is present in any area of the excised tissue, the procedure is repeated only on the body area where those cancer cells were identified (the tissue mapping allows the Mohs surgeon to pinpoint this area of the body), until the last excised layer viewed microscopically is cancer-free. This technique can save the greatest amount of healthy tissue and has the highest cure rate, 99 percent or better. It is often used for large tumors in cosmetically important areas, and those that have recurred, are poorly demarcated (hard to pinpoint), or are in critical areas.