Home | Surgical Dermatology | Skin Cancer Excision

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, it can be nerve-wracking and stressful. We fully understand this, which is why we take the time to thoroughly explain the skin cancer excision process. Excision is performed to remove skin cancer cells. Our dermatologists are highly skilled in skin cancer excision and removal, which is why we don’t give up until all of the skin cancer is removed.

What is Skin Cancer Excision?

A skin cancer excision is done to treat melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancers. During excision, the skin cancer is removed, along with some of the healthy tissue that surrounds it. We will then send your excised tissue to a lab, which will check to ensure that all remaining cancer cells have been removed. Our main goal is to totally eliminate skin cancer from your body for a healthy and happy you.

Who is a Good Candidate for Skin Cancer Excision?

Individuals who have melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancers can benefit from skin cancer excision.

What to Expect During Skin Cancer Excision?

During your skin cancer excision, your skin will be numbed with a local anesthetic. The complexity of the excision will depend on the size, type, and location of the tumor. The most common technique used to excise a tumor is through a technique called an elliptical excision.  First, your dermatologist will draw a margin around the tumor. The margin will be based on how deep the tumor is. An elliptical shape will then be cut around the margin, which produces a better-looking scar. The incision will then be closed with stitches, leaving you with a scar that resembles a flat, thin line.

For more complex areas such as the face, scalp, ear, fingers, foot, or toes, it may not be possible to stretch the skin over the excision site to close it. In these cases, a repair procedure using skin grafts or flaps may be needed.

Following your skin cancer excision, your skin cell sample will be sent to a laboratory to ensure that all of the cancer cells were removed from your body. If your results read that there are still cancer cells that extend to the edge of your sample, you will need additional treatment to remove all of the cancer cells. Your dermatologist will speak with you regarding possible next steps.

Skin Cancer Excision Recovery

It is important to keep the incision site dry for 24 hours, keep it protected and covered from sunlight. Be sure to follow your dermatologist’s instructions on how to remove or change your bandage, and what medications you can take for discomfort. Most patients will have a scar at the incision site following surgery.

Skin Cancer FAQs

At what age does skin cancer typically occur?

Usually, basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma occurs in patients who are over age 50. The average age for a melanoma diagnosis is 65.

Can a dermatologist tell if you have skin cancer?

Yes, a dermatologist can determine whether you have skin cancer after a visual exam and biopsy.

Can a dry patch of skin be cancer?

Dry patches of skin may be squamous cell carcinoma or actinic keratosis. Visit your dermatologist if you have a persistent dry patch, especially if it oozes, crusts, or changes in appearance over time.

Can a skin cancer look like a pimple?

Basal cell carcinoma can look like a pimple, scar, or sore. Your dermatologist can help diagnose the issue and determine whether it is skin cancer.

Can you have skin cancer for years and not know?

It is possible for skin cancer to grow undetected for many years. Some patients have skin cancer for up to 10 years or more before they are diagnosed. Early treatment is important, so you should always perform regular skin checks.

Can you spread skin cancer by picking it?

No. However, it is not advisable to attempt to traumatize your skin.

Do you see an oncologist for skin cancer?

Most skin cancers do not require a visit to the oncologist. However, for deeper melanomas, high-risk squamous cell carcinoma, metastatic basal cell carcinoma, certain cases of cutaneous T cell lymphoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma your dermatologist may refer you to an oncologist.

Does skin cancer hurt to the touch?

Any painful skin lesion should prompt a visit to the dermatologist. Most skin cancer is painless, but sometimes pain could be a red flag

How do dermatologists remove skin cancer?

An in-office biopsy is the standard procedure a dermatologist performs. This usually takes a matter of minutes.

How do doctors check for skin cancer?

A skin check is performed in the office. Patients wear a gown and the skin surface is visually examined. Often a dermatoscope, a handheld magnifier, is used to assess suspicious growth.

How do they remove skin cancer from scalp?

Skin cancer on the scalp can be removed with excision, destructive therapies (curettage, cryosurgery), Mohs surgery, or radiation.

How does skin cancer start?

Skin cancer can start as a new dark spot or bump, changing mole, non-healing wound, rough spot, or itchy, bleeding, painful growth.

Is Skin Cancer raised or flat?

Skin cancer does not have just one presentation. A dermatologist can quickly determine whether a lesion needs a biopsy.

Is Skin Cancer slow growing?

While most basal cell carcinomas grow slowly, some melanomas, keratoacanthomas (squamous cell carcinomas), and less common cancers can arise quickly.

Is there a difference between skin cancer and melanoma?

Melanoma is a specific type of skin cancer.

Should skin cancer be removed?

Any skin cancer has the risk of resulting in death. You should speak with your dermatologist about the specific timeline and options you have to remove your skin cancer.

What happens if skin cancer goes undetected?

Skin cancers that go undetected can grow in size and ultimately spread to other areas of the body (metastasize).

What happens if you have skin cancer?

Your dermatologist will organize a treatment plan that is best suited for your needs.

What happens if you leave skin cancer untreated?

Left untreated, skin cancers can invade deeper structures, bleed, and spread to other areas of the body.

What really causes skin cancer?

Ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds is the main contributing factor. Genetic mutations, medications, and other factors may also promote skin cancer development.

Can laser remove skin cancer?

Lasers are not routinely used to treat skin cancer.

Can skin cancer go away by itself?

Typically, skin cancer does not self-resolve.

Can skin cancer kill you?

While most skin cancers are easily treated, skin cancer can absolutely result in death.

Can skin cancer show up suddenly?

While some do, others may take months to years to first be noticed.

Does skin cancer show up in blood work?

Blood work is not indicated for the vast majority of skin cancer patients

Does sunscreen stop skin cancer?

A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30+ provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Sun protection reduces the incidence of skin cancer, but will not treat existing cancers.

How can you tell if a spot is skin cancer?

The best way to initially find skin cancer is to examine yourself. You want to check the entire skin surface from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. On a regular basis, a dermatologist should examine your skin to best identify skin cancer.

How common is non melanoma skin cancer?

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in humans. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin malignancy.

How fast does skin cancer spread?

This will depend on the type of skin cancer, your immune system, and your other medical conditions

How is skin cancer prevented?

Sunscreens, sun-protective clothing/hats, seeking shade, and avoiding tanning beds will serve to minimize skin cancer risk.

How long after sunburn does skin cancer develop?

Skin damage builds up over time starting with your very first sunburn. The more you burn, the greater your risk of skin cancer. Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.

How long does it take to remove skin cancer?

Some skin cancers can be treated in a matter of minutes. Others excised in the office might take 20-30 minutes to remove.

What are first signs of skin cancer?

Learn the ABCDEs of melanoma. Look for new moles or changes in moles.nA - Asymmetry nB - Border irregularitynC - Color variegationnD - Diameter usually less than 6 mmnE - Evolving

What are the odds of surviving skin cancer?

The overwhelming majority of skin cancers have an excellent prognosis. Higher stage melanomas, high-risk squamous cell carcinomas, and Merkel cell carcinoma have worse outlooks.

What are the signs of skin cancer on the scalp?

Skin cancers can vary in size and shape. They can appear as pearly or translucent bumps, pink patches, a rough patch, boil-like, black moles, open wounds, painful spots, and itchy growths.

What do the early stages of skin cancer look like?

Skin cancers can vary in size and shape. They can appear as pearly or translucent bumps, pink patches, a rough patch, boil-like, black moles, open wounds, painful spots, and itchy growths.

Why is skin cancer prevention important?

Skin cancer prevention is extremely important as 1 in 5 Americans will have skin cancer by age 70. Approximately 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Where is skin cancer most commonly found on the body?

BCCs and SCCs are more commonly found on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, and arms.

Schedule a Consultation

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer and would like to schedule a skin cancer excision appointment, contact our office today. We will be happy to schedule your appointment, as well as answer any questions you may have.

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