It's a good idea to let your doctor or dermatologist examine your skin for cancer during your annual examination. Periodic examinations help you detect cancer when it can be easily removed. This greatly reduces the risk of spreading and increases the chances of a cure. While you should also examine your own skin often, it's hard to see the backs of your legs, arms, and torso. Plus, you may not know what you're looking for. Your doctor can give you a thorough exam, and he or she may be able to remove any suspicious growths at the same time. Here's what to expect with skin cancer surgery at places like Countryside Dermatology & Laser Center.
If your skin cancer is still small, it's easy to remove with excision surgery. This just entails cutting out the cancerous growth along with a border of healthy tissue to catch stray cancer cells. This skin cancer surgery can be done right in your doctor's office. You'll receive a local anesthetic, so you won't feel pain, although the area may be sore later.
Sometimes skin cancer appears to be very small when it's on the surface of your skin, but it can be quite large underneath. This requires more extensive surgery that involves scooping out a bigger chunk of tissue. While the procedure is basically the same in that the doctor removes the cancer along with healthy tissue, because so much is removed, the recovery period for this type of surgery is longer. It can also leave a scar or depression in the area where the cancer was removed.
Mohs surgery is a specialized procedure that is done to remove as little tissue as possible while ensuring all the cancer is removed. This type of surgery might be best if you have a deep cancer on your face, and you want to minimize disfiguration. To do this, the surgeon first removes the cancerous mass, and then slowly cuts away the healthy skin one layer at a time. As each layer is removed it is examined under a microscope for cancer cells. If cancer is detected, another layer of skin is removed and examined. This can be a lengthy process, but it has the advantage of letting your doctor know right away that the cancer has been removed without having to wait on lab tests.
In the event the skin cancer surgery would leave you with noticeable after effects, you can undergo corrective surgery the same day. For instance, if you have cancer on your nose, you could have Mohs surgery and reconstructive surgery at the same time, so when your nose heals, it won't show any disfiguration. No matter what kind of surgery your doctor decides is appropriate, you shouldn't delay the procedure. Your cancer will likely grow while you delay, and this could make your procedure even more difficult to endure.