Do You Need A Specialist
For many, the decision to bring in a medical specialist is determined by one’s health care plan. HMOs require patients to first see a primary care physician, who may then refer them to a specialist. On the other hand, PPO health plans require no referral, allowing patients to choose their own specialist.
Questions About Your Skin Cancer Treatment
Treatment for skin cancer often varies depending on the type, location, stage and/or other factors. Below are answers to some common questions about available treatments for skin cancer and melanoma:
What are my skin cancer treatment options?
Treatments for skin cancer vary widely depending on the cells affected and the stage of the disease. Most basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas;may be treated in an outpatient procedure by a dermatologist. The affected area may be removed with a local excision or by cryotherapy, which uses a very cold a substance such as liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the cancer cells. More advanced basal cell or squamous cell cancers may require more extensive surgeries and treatments. Surgery to treat melanoma and Merkel cell carcinomas may require a wide excision;and the removal of lymph nodes. Chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy and immunotherapy are all treatment options for melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma.
What side effects can I expect from my treatment?
What types of doctors will I see during my treatment for skin cancer or melanoma?
Depending on your type and stage of skin cancer, your care team may include a number of physicians, including one or all of the doctors below:
Cancer Treatment Team Puts Patients First
Our team approach to care offers patients the expertise of specialists who work to create individualized treatment plans according to a patients unique needs. The team includes surgical, medical and radiation oncologists, dermatological surgeons, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, oncology nurses, dietitians and social workers. These experts work together in a multidisciplinary team to create the best solution possible.
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Questions To Ask About Your Health Care Team
How many oncologists will be part of my cancer treatment team?
If there is more than 1 doctor on my team, which doctor will lead my overall care?
How will each type of recommended cancer treatment help me?
Will my case be reviewed by a tumor board? When?
When do I need to make a decision about my treatment planning?
How often will I need to see each doctor during the treatment period? After treatment?
Are my doctors all at the same hospital/center or at different locations?
What is my health insurance coverage for different medical services? If I’m concerned with the costs of cancer care, who can help me?
What other types of health care providers will be part of my cancer care team?
If I experience a new side effect or a change in how I’m feeling, who should I tell?
Is there one person I should contact with any questions I have? How can I get in touch with the different professionals on my team?
What is the best way to get in touch with my cancer care team in an emergency?
Who can help me cope with the stress and emotions of cancer?
Advanced Treatments For Excellent Patient Outcomes
Our team offers a powerful combination of traditional and novel skin cancer treatments. Treatment options include chemoprevention to prevent infection and immunotherapy. Whenever possible, our doctors recommend minimally invasive surgery to help reduce pain, scarring and recovery time.
UH Seidman Cancer Center specialists employ the following advanced techniques to identify and destroy skin cancers, including melanoma:
- Digital MoleMap technology: enables early detection of melanoma
- Sentinel lymph node biopsy: a procedure in which only the sentinel node is removed to determine whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
- Interferon therapy: interferon is a protein produced in your body to help fight disease; recent studies show that it can stop the growth and spread of cancer cells
- Interleukin-2 immunotherapy: boosts the body’s natural ability to fight threats to the immune system
- Excisional surgery
- Mohs micrographic surgery: surgery where a doctor removes skin growth by layers, examining each layer under the microscope, until no abnormal cells remain
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What Happens During A Skin Cancer Full Body Exam
The screening usually takes 10 minutes, or longer if the doctor sees any moles that look unusual. Youll take off all of your clothes and put on a medical exam gown. Your doctor will ask if you have any moles that concern you. Then, they will then look at every inch of your body — from your face, chest, arms, back, and legs to less-visible places like your scalp, between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
What Is Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is a specific form of cancer that develops most often on skin exposed to the sun. The three main skin cancer types are:
- Basal cell carcinoma. The most common cancer form. Found in the deepest part of your skins outermost layer.
- Squamous cell carcinoma. Develops in the flat, outer skin cells.
- Melanoma. A malignant tumor that forms in the melanin-forming cells. Often appears as dark brown or black moles on your skin.
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What Doctors And Specialists Treat Skin Cancer
Skin cancer treatment may require a team approach.
Simple skin cancers can usually be handled by a dermatologist in an office setting. More complex cases, however, may require the expertise of several health professionals to both diagnose and treat the cancer.
The experts on your healthcare team can answer important questions and provide valuable information about your diagnosis. The number of providers youll see will depend on the type of skin cancer you have and how advanced it is.
How Do Dermatologists Treat Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin
Most patients are treated with a type of surgery called surgical removal. Your dermatologist or Mohs surgeon can often perform this type of treatment during an office visit.
The following describes what to expect from surgical removal and other treatments for this skin cancer:
Surgical removal: Three types of surgical removal are used to treat this type of skin cancer. All can be performed during an office visit while you remain awake.
Your dermatologist will choose the type of surgical removal you receive, based on where the skin cancer appears on your body, how deeply the cancer has grown, and other considerations.
During surgical removal, your dermatologist cuts out the tumor. When the cancer is caught early, this may be the only treatment you need.
Here’s what happens during each type of surgical removal used to treat this skin cancer:
Radiation therapy: If surgical removal alone cannot treat the cancer or you cannot have surgical removal, your treatment plan may include radiation treatments.
The different types of radiation therapy used to treat SCC are:
Superficial radiation therapy: Beams of radiation are directed just beneath the skin, which treats only the tumor.
External beam radiation therapy: High-energy beams of radiation are sent into the tumor in order to kill cancer cells.
Brachytherapy : Radioactive implants are placed inside the cancer. Also called internal radiation, this therapy is often used to treat prostate cancer.
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Is Mohs Right For Me
Mohs surgery is the gold standard for treating many basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas , including those in cosmetically and functionally important areas around the eyes, nose, lips, ears, scalp, fingers, toes or genitals. Mohs is also recommended for BCCs or SCCs that are large, aggressive or growing rapidly, that have indistinct edges, or have recurred after previous treatment. Some surgeons are also successfully using Mohs surgery on certain cases of melanoma.
Questions To Ask Your Medical Oncologist
Things you might want to ask about your skin cancer diagnosis and treatment plan include:
- What should you do to protect yourself from the sun to avoid more skin cancer developing?
- Is surgery required? If not, what are the other treatment options?
- Will you need a plastic surgeon?
- What kind of side effects should you expect from the treatment thats chosen?
- Are there recommendations for eating, exercising or other activities that you should be aware of?
- What to expect during your appointments? You may want to read our Your First Visit section before arriving at Compass Oncology.
- Are clinical trials an option?
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Help Getting Through Cancer Treatment
People with cancer need support and information, no matter what stage of illness they may be in.;Knowing all of your options and finding the resources you need will help you make informed decisions about your care.;
Whether you are thinking about treatment, getting treatment, or not being treated at all,; you can still get;supportive care;to help with pain or other symptoms.;Communicating with your cancer care team is important so you understand your diagnosis, what treatment is recommended, and ways to;maintain or improve your quality of life.;;
Different types of programs and support services may be helpful, and can be an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also;has programs and services; including rides to treatment, lodging, and more to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists.
Keep Notes And Records
Before you even see an oncologist we suggest you purchase a special notebook and folder where you can take notes and keep your paperwork together for your skin cancer treatment regimen. You should start this notebook as soon as youre diagnosed, even if youre seeing a dermatologist before you consult with an oncologist, to jot down questions, dates, medicine schedules and how you feel to share this with your skin cancer specialist.
If a written notebook isnt easy for you, choose a method that you like and then commit to using it regularly. A laptop can easily be brought in or even use the notes feature on your phone where youll be able to refer back to it. Whatever you choose its best to then stay consistent.
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What Is A Primary Care Providers Role In Treating Skin Cancer
Primary care providers provide preventive care and health education.1 They diagnose and treat some medical problems. They refer patients to specialists for others. Primary care doctors include internists, family physicians, pediatricians, geriatricians, and gynecologists. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants provide primary care as well.1 They are not doctors, but they have advanced medical training.
Some primary care providers are trained to recognize skin cancer. Some primary care providers perform full-body skin examinations. Others may look for signs of skin cancer while examining you for other reasons. Primary care providers may counsel about sun protection. Your primary care provider may biopsy a suspicious lesion or refer you to a dermatologist.2
What Is A Dermatologists Role In Treating Skin Cancer
A dermatologist is a doctor trained to treat problems of the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes.3 Dermatologists may have experience with skin cancer.
Dermatologists play an important role in skin cancer screening. Your dermatologist can perform a full-body skin exam. Dermatologists are trained to use an instrument called a dermatoscope. A dermatoscope is a special magnifying glass. It helps your doctor to see skin structures that are invisible to the naked eye. Many dermatologists photograph lesions. The photographs allow them to track changes over time. Your dermatologist can teach you how to do a skin self-examination.
Dermatologists perform skin biopsy procedures. When the biopsy results come back, your dermatologist will interpret the report for you. Together, you and your dermatologist will develop a treatment plan. Many skin cancers can be treated by your dermatologists in the office.
A Mohs surgeon is a dermatologist with advanced training in Mohs surgery.3 A Mohs surgeon usually works in an office. Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure.4
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What Kind Of Doctor Treats Skin Cancer
At Banner MD Anderson, we recognize that no two skin cancers are alike. Therefore, our multidisciplinary team of experts works together to create the best treatment plans possible to meet the needs of every individual affected by skin cancer. The team may include a dermatologist, a surgical oncologist, a medical oncologist and other health care professionals.
When To See A Dermatologist
If you have skin that may be prone to skin cancer, youll want to get a yearly skin check-up from a dermatologist. During this appointment, the dermatologist will carefully check your skin for warning signs of skin cancer.
If youre concerned about your skin condition and dont already have a dermatologist, you can view doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
If youre unsure of whether you need a yearly skin check, ask your primary care physician for their recommendation.
If something related to your skin or hair is bothering you, a dermatologist can help diagnose and treat the condition. This can include:
When youre looking for a dermatologist, consider these factors:
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Getting Started With Medical Marijuana
Search for a;medical marijuana doctor;today to begin your cannabis for skin cancer treatment to alleviate your skin cancer symptoms.;We can connect you with quality medical marijuana doctors in all legal marijuana states across the country to ensure you comply with your state laws. Let us help improve your quality of life by booking an appointment today.
There Are Three Ways That Cancer Spreads In The Body
- Tissue. The cancer spreads from where it began by growing into nearby areas.
- Lymph system. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the lymph system. The cancer travels through the lymph vessels to other parts of the body.
- Blood. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the blood. The cancer travels through the blood vessels to other parts of the body.
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Cancer May Spread From Where It Began To Other Parts Of The Body
- Lymph system. The cancer gets into the lymph system, travels through the lymph vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.
- Blood. The cancer gets into the blood, travels through the blood vessels, and forms a tumor in another part of the body.
The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if skin cancer spreads to the lung, the cancer cells in the lung are actually skin cancer cells. The disease is metastatic skin cancer, not lung cancer.
Skin Cancer Diagnosis Always Requires A Skin Biopsy
When you see a dermatologist because youve found a spot that might be skin cancer, your dermatologist will examine the spot.
If the spot looks like it could be a skin cancer, your dermatologist will remove it all or part of it. This can easily be done during your appointment. The procedure that your dermatologist uses to remove the spot is called a skin biopsy.
Having a skin biopsy is essential. Its the only way to know whether you have skin cancer. Theres no other way to know for sure.
What your dermatologist removes will be looked at under a microscope. The doctor who examines the removed skin will look for cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, your biopsy report will tell you what type of skin cancer cells were found. When cancer cells arent found, your biopsy report will explain what was seen under the microscope.
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Staging For Basal Cell Carcinoma And Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin Depends On Where The Cancer Formed
Staging for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the eyelid is different from staging for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma found on other areas of the head or neck. There is no staging system for basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma that is not found on the head or neck.
Surgery to remove the primary tumor and abnormal lymph nodes is done so that tissue samples can be studied under a microscope. This is called pathologic staging and the findings are used for staging as described below. If staging is done before surgery to remove the tumor, it is called clinical staging. The clinical stage may be different from the pathologic stage.
National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Centers:
If you are unsure of where to start, the National Cancer Institute part of the National Institutes of Health has designated 70 centers throughout the country as NCI-Designated Cancer Centers. These 70 centers deliver cutting-edge treatments to patients and are recognized for their scientific leadership, resources, and the depth and breadth of their research in basic, clinical, and/or population science.;
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What Are The Treatment Options
There are varieties of treatments available to treat skin cancer, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type and size of cancer, your age, and your overall health.
Surgery is the most common form of treatment. It generally consists of an office or outpatient procedure to remove the lesion and check the edges, or margins, to make sure all the cancer was removed. For basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, excision is frequently done using a specific technique called Mohs surgery, which gives the best chance to include all margins, while still minimizing the size of the defect. The site may then be repaired with simple stitches or skin from the same area or a different area of your body.
For melanoma treatment, your ENT specialist might also recommend doing a biopsy of the lymph node with the highest chance of having tiny microscopic metastatic cancer cells called a sentinel lymph node biopsy. If this biopsy is positive, further removal of more lymph nodes might be needed.
Sometimes radiation may be used as definitive therapy or additional treatment after surgery. For non-melanoma skin cancers, chemotherapy is not used as primary therapy, and its use after surgery is controversial. For melanomas, chemotherapy and medications that modulate the immune system may be used in more advanced cases.