Even though modern skin cancer treatments are very effective, that is one medical condition that must be caught in its earliest stages. When you notice the early warning signs of skin cancer, it will be much easier for your medical team to carry out successful treatments. Catching skin cancer right away will also minimize how much those treatments are going to impact your appearance. Here is a quick look at a few of the most common signs of skin cancer and what your treatment options are going to be if you are diagnosed with that pervasive medical condition.
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When to See a Doctor
Every case of skin cancer is slightly different, but there are a few warning signs that most patients will recognize at some point. When the cancer is in its earliest stages, you might notice some discolored patches of skin or unusually large freckles. Those imperfections typically appear on the face and or neck, but they can also develop on the arms or any other areas of the body that are regularly exposed to sunlight. Over time, those discolored patches could grow in size or develop unusual edges. As the cancerous cells spread, the blemishes might also itch, bleed, or shed skin. If you have noticed any of those issues, then you need to head to a dermatologist right away for testing.
The Initial Diagnosis
When you first arrive at the dermatologist, they will take a close look at your imperfections to see if a biopsy is required. In many cases, the dermatologist will take a sample of the soft tissue even if they think that there are no cancerous cells. The skin sample will then be tested in the dermatologist’s office or sent off to a lab. Luckily, most biopsies are relatively quick, and you should get the results within a few days. If the biopsy comes back positive, then you will need to schedule a new consultation with the dermatologist to explore all of the different skin cancer treatments.
A Look at Skin Cancer Surgery
There are a few different procedures that can be carried out for skin cancer, but many medical professionals now prefer Mohs surgery. That cutting-edge procedure has an extremely high success rate, and it is only going to have a very small impact on your appearance. What sets that type of skin cancer surgery apart from all of the other treatment options is the fact that a very small sliver of skin is going to be removed during each appointment. That usually results in minimal scarring, and the scarred tissue should become less visible over time.
Creating Your Long-Term Treatment Plan
In addition to MOHS surgery, your dermatologist might also suggest ongoing treatments that reduce your risk of developing additional complications. Some patients are going to be given ointments that must be placed over the treatment sites while others will need to undergo chemotherapy. It is also vital that you do everything in your power to protect your skin from additional sun damage. While skin cancer often develops when an individual is a young adult, additional issues could take place if your skin is constantly being bombarded with UV rays.
After your skin cancer treatments, you must attempt to stay out of the sun as much as possible. If you are going to be out in the sun, then you should cover your skin with sunblock and wear a wide-brimmed hat. In the coming years, you will need to regularly meet with the dermatologist so that they can keep an eye on your skin.