What increases my risk for skin cancer?

The primary cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet light. You have a higher risk if you have a family history of skin cancer or you’re fair skinned. Otherwise, your overall risk depends on:

  • Cumulative time spent in the sun or a tanning bed
  • Consistent use of sunscreen
  • Number of sunburns you’ve suffered

What are the types of skin cancer?

The three types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common type of skin cancer, may look like a red patch of skin, a pink bump, or an open sore. BCC rarely spreads through your body, but it can invade deep into tissues, potentially reaching bones.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common type of skin cancer, may arise from precancerous lesions on your body called actinic keratosis. It often appears as a scaly red patch, a red bump, or an open sore. Without treatment, SCC can spread to other parts of your body.
  • Melanoma: Melanoma is the least common but most dangerous skin cancer because it proliferates and spreads through your body. It’s curable when diagnosed and treated at an early stage, but after it spreads, it’s difficult to treat. Melanoma often develops from an existing mole.

How is skin cancer treated?

Dr. Hurst is trained in the most effective treatment for skin cancer: Mohs micrographic surgery. This highly specialized treatment removes all of your skin cancer while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible.

He can’t use Mohs for all skin cancers, but it’s beneficial for aggressive, large, or recurrent cancer cells, and to treat areas like your nose, ears, and lips.

During Mohs surgery, skin cancer is removed and thin layers are examined under the microscope to see if the edges contain cancer. If Dr. Hurst finds cancerous cells, another thin layer of skin is removed and examined. With this step-wise procedure, tissue removal is precise, and Dr. Hurst can ensure that all the cancer is gone.

Other methods of removing skin cancer include:

  • Simple excision: Tumor is cut from skin
  • Shave excision: Tumor is shaved from skin
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage: Tumor is removed, then electrical current destroys cancer cells
  • Cryosurgery: Cancer cells are destroyed by freezing
  • Laser surgery: Tumor is removed using laser

Call Dr. Hurst if you have any questions about skin cancer, or if you’d like a mole or lesion examined.