The 4th of July Holiday is upon us. This makes us think about summer time fun. Long days sitting by the lake or high adventure hiking or a family picnic after the local parade. We love the sun! The sun feeds our soul with warmth and our bodies with much needed Vitamin D that helps give us energy. But too much of a good thing can have a downside. The negative side of sunshine is of course, skin cancer.
Since we were young children, we have been taught how to prevent sun damage. Wear sunscreen, wear a loose long sleeve shirt, put on a hat, stay in the shade, and on and on. Yet despite the fact that most skin cancers are preventable, more than 1 million people will be diagnosed with a new skin cancer this year. If treated very early, skin cancer can be no more than simple 2 minute procedure at the dermatologists office. But for the more advanced skin cancers, there are options aside from a simple scrape or freeze.
SURGERY FOR SKIN CANCER
Most commonly dermatologists will do simple excision surgery or the Mohs surgery. Both are done under local anesthia and can be very effective. Mohs surgery requires the surgeon to painstakingly take off one layer of skin at a time until no more cancer cells can be seen under a microscope. This does allow the surgeon to feel confident that enough skin has been removed to eliminate the cancer cells. However, both types of surgeries carry risks of bleeding and scarring in addition to the mild anethestic risks. And for those patients that have thin blood, diabetes or other conditions that affect their wound healing, even simple surgery can lead to big complications.
GENTLER RADIATION THERAPY
Radiation therapy offers an alternative. Leipzig Robotic Radiation treatment targets small skin cancers without pain or damaging surrounding tissue. This is a very superficial radiation therapy that cause no scarring and no bleeding complications caused from cutting into the skin like surgery. A patient simply experiences a ‘sunburn’ in the treatment area as the cancerous skin is destroyed. Once new skin has grown, it is healthy and fresh just like a newborn baby.
Traditional electron beam radiation is a wonderful alternative for more advanced skin cancers. It delivers powerful cancer-fighting radiation to the involved layers of the skin and spares the tissues and organs beneath. Normal tissue surrounding the cancer have time to heal after small daily doses of radiation, while the skin cancer cells do not grow anymore.
KNOW YOUR ABCDE
The key to the success of any of these types of cancer treatment is to detect skin cancer in it’s earliest stage. See your dermatologist or primary care physician once a year and ask for a full body skin check. Use this chart below to help you determine when you need to make an appointment immediately.
First Dayton Cancer Care can help you decide what type of treatment is best to cure your skin cancer without cutting, bleeding, scarring or pain. Call Dr. Ed Hughes at 1-855-DAYTON1 today.