While many people think of the dermatologist as somewhere to go if they have problems with acne or want to get rid of unwanted hair, these doctors also perform much more important types of treatment. For example, some of the various skin cancer treatment options are available through the dermatologist.
The dermatologist is the doctor who often first discovers skin cancer. When visiting the dermatologist’s office, the doctor will do a check to see if there are any odd looking moles or lesions that could indicate skin cancer. The next step is to remove all or part of these lesions to do a biopsy that will help determine whether there are actually cancerous cells in the lesion and, if so, which type of treatment might be indicated. Patches of skin that are raised and red or scaly, bleeding or crusty can indicate skin cancer, as can sores that don’t get better and raised smooth and shiny patches of skin.
Potential Early Treatment Options
It’s always best to catch cancer as soon as possible, as this makes it easier to eliminate completely because it hasn’t had as much of a chance to spread. This is why yearly skin cancer checks at the dermatologist’s office are so important. Then, it’s possible to treat the skin cancer simply by numbing the area and cutting out the affected tissue. It usually only requires a local anesthetic and doesn’t require any time off of work other than the appointment itself. There are other alternatives as well. Once includes scraping out the tumor with a tool called a curette and then using an electric needle to cauterize the area. Another option is to freeze it off with cryosurgery. Less frequently used treatments include photodynamic therapy and topical chemotherapy.
Nonmelanoma skin cancers, such as squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, are easier to treat because they don’t usually spread to other parts of the body besides the skin. Melanoma is one of the more rare types of skin cancer, but it can be the most dangerous because it may spread to other parts of the body. Then it isn’t possible to simply remove the affected skin and have the cancer be treated.