About the Skin Cancer Center
The Skin Cancer Center uses a multidisciplinary approach towards the treatment of skin cancer by utilizing our team of expertly trained surgeons. Our board certified general dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon works closely with our plastic surgeons and if needed the radiation oncology department to achieve the best clinical outcomes. All physicians are located on our campus at the Gulf Region Medical Tower, Ambulatory Surgical Center and Cancer Center (MD Anderson affiliate) in Pensacola.
About Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is a tumor or growth on the skin which is created by an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells. Skin cancer can develop on any part of the body, but it is more common on those parts of skin that are often exposed to sunlight such as arms, neck, face, hands, etc. Most skin cancers are caused by DNA damage to skin cells due to long-term accumulated ultraviolet light exposure or occasional, intense UV exposure from the sun and/or tanning beds. Some skin cancers can spread by lymphatics in the blood stream to other parts of the body. Anyone can develop a skin cancer, but the risk is highest among middle-aged and elderly people with fair skin.
A tumor can be benign or malignant. Benign tumors are non-cancerous growths with the capacity to grow locally, but do not metastasize. They are dangerous only when they originate near vital organs, and thus interfere with normal functioning. Malignant tumors are cancerous, and can spread locally or to distant parts of the body. The spread of cancer to other parts of the body is called metastasis. Malignant tumors are dangerous. They crowd out normal tissue, and can stop the normal functioning of the tissues in which they grow.
Types of Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma- (BCC) The most common type of skin cancer. These usually do not metastasize but do slowly grow larger and deeper, invading the tissue. Thus, they can be destructive and disfiguring. (more information)
Squamous Cell Carcinoma- (SCC) The second most common type of skin cancer. Like BCC, these grow and invade the tissue, and some types of squamous cell carcinoma can grow fairly rapidly. Squamous cell carcinoma does have a small potential to metastasize and cause death if allowed to grow large and deep. This type of skin cancer can also cause significant problems for people who have suppressed immune systems. (more information)
Melanoma- The least common, but most deadly form of skin cancer. If diagnosed early and removed, melanoma is usually fully curable. If not removed early enough, melanoma can spread to lymph nodes and other body areas, and can be fatal. (more information)
Treating Skin Cancer
Our physicians understand that each patient is unique, and take that approach to our practice by designing a personalized approach to every individual need. There are various treatment options available, but skin cancer treatment depends upon a number of factors such as: type of skin cancer, stage (location and size of the cancer), and the patient’s general health condition and age. The main treatment options for skin cancer are:
- Surgery: Excision and Mohs Surgery (Mohs)
- Superficial Radiation Therapy (SRT)
- Shave with curettage and cautery
- Chemotherapy: Topical and Systemic
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Biologic Therapy
About Mohs Skin Cancer Surgery
Named after its innovator, Dr. Frederick Mohs, Mohs surgery is a specialized type of skin cancer surgery. Usually an in-office procedure done under local anesthesia, this method differs from other methods of treating skin cancer by the use of Complete Microscopic Examination of all the tissues surgically removed. As well as, detailed mapping techniques to allow the surgeon to remove all of the roots and extensions of skin cancer.
What are the advantages of Mohs Surgery?
The Mohs surgery method is infinitely more precise than regular skin cancer surgery, and allows the Mohs surgeon to pinpoint areas afflicted with cancer that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. Therefore, even the smallest microscopic roots of the cancer are removed, while no more of the normal skin is removed than absolutely necessary. This provides the highest possibility for curing the cancer while minimizing potential scarring.
For these reasons, Mohs surgery is primarily used for skin cancers occurring on the face, ears, scalp, and neck. Mohs is especially recommended when a previously treated skin cancer recurs, as other treatments have significantly lower success rates.
Who performs Mohs surgery?
Ideally, Mohs surgeons are physicians who have completed a rigorous year-long Mohs surgery fellowship training program, after three years of standard Dermatology residency training. During their fellowship year, Mohs surgeons not only gain experience removing hundreds of skin cancers, but also are highly trained in the plastic surgery wound repair techniques. These physicians then become members of the American College of Mohs Surgery (www.acms.org).
Unfortunately, some "Mohs surgeons" have circumvented the usual year-long fellowship program. These surgeons become Mohs surgery "certified" after participating in a short course, and with limited experience, may then practice on the public. They are members of the American Society of Mohs Surgery.
At the Dermatology & Laser Center at Medical Center Clinic, you can be assured that you will receive the highest quality Mohs surgery care available. Our Mohs surgeons, are fully fellowship-trained, and work closely with our excellent plastic surgeons when that need arises.
American College of Mohs Surgery Video about Mohs surgery
About SRT-100TM Skin Cancer Treatment
SRT-100TM is a low energy radiotherapy that goes no deeper than the thickness of the skin. It is a highly effective, non-invasive procedure that has been used to treat non-melanoma skin cancer for over 50 years. Because the superficial x-rays concentrate the radiation dose on the skin surface, the treatment has several advantages over surgical procedures, the greatest of which are a virtually painless procedure with minimal to no scarring.
What are the advantages of SRT-100TM?
The SRT-100TM treats non-melanoma skin cancers that are found on the surface of the skin. It can be used for lesions on most parts of the body. This treatment is especially well suited for skin cancers of the head and neck regions, such as the nose, ears, lips, and some areas of the eyelids that could otherwise lead to a less than desirable cosmetic outcome from surgery. SRT is also a great treatment option for patients who do not want to undergo surgery, as well as for those who are considered high risk for surgical procedures.
- The SRT procedure is non-surgical and does not require the use of anesthetics.
- An average of 12 treatment sessions is required with most skin cancers.
- Tell your doctor about medications you are taking and continue them unless your physician tells you otherwise.
- The treatment is painless and very safe. The cancer sight usually develops redness after 6-8 treatment sessions.
- Post treatment, the area will have varying degrees of redness, scaling, and scabbing that heals up very nicely over 3-4 weeks.