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Ask These Questions Before Having Skin Cancer Surgery

Ask These Questions Before Having Skin Cancer Surgery

An estimated 20% of Americans develop skin cancer by the time they reach age 70, and more than 9,500 receive a diagnosis each day. Most alarmingly, more people learn they have skin cancer every year than all other forms of the disease combined. 

However, there’s good news, too. While these numbers may seem bleak, treatments are available for skin cancer, and they’re more effective than ever. 

At Surgical Associates of North Texas in McKinney, Texas, Scott A. deVilleneuve, MD, specializes in state-of-the-art skin cancer treatments that minimize tissue damage. These approaches are especially important for the deadliest form of the disease, melanoma.

If you learn you have skin cancer, Dr. deVilleneuve recommends asking these questions before undergoing surgery.

What type of skin cancer is it?

There is more than one type of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common forms, and they usually develop due to sun exposure. Because of this, they typically develop on certain areas of the body, such as the:

Melanoma, which can develop due to sun exposure, gene changes, and possibly other causes, is not as common, but it’s more serious. Furthermore, there are also precancerous skin conditions and other skin issues that can cause potential problems. Consequently, it’s crucial to know exactly what you’re dealing with, because this will determine the best course of treatment.

What are my treatment options?

Once you understand your diagnosis, your doctor can explain your treatment options. These procedures vary, depending on your diagnosis. For instance, if you have melanoma, the gold standard of treatment is Mohs surgery, and the team will refer you to a dermatologist.

During Mohs surgery, the provider removes one thin layer of tissue at a time and checks it under a microscope. This process is repeated until no cancer remains in the site. This targeted and systematic approach allows providers to remove all of the cancerous cells while preserving as much healthy tissue in the area as possible.

While this is the best course of action for melanoma, every skin cancer diagnosis requires a personalized treatment plan based on the type, location, and extent of the condition.

How long will my surgery take?

Surgeries to remove skin cancer can vary significantly. For instance, a provider can sometimes remove the cancer by cutting it out and stitching the skin together. At other times, a provider may need to scrape the area and treat it with an electrode to destroy any remaining cancer cells. These approaches typically take less time.

Mohs surgery can take much longer since it involves removing one layer of tissue at a time, which can make it a more lengthy process than other approaches. In some cases, it can take several hours or an entire day. However, it also means more healthy skin gets saved, which can help preserve the appearance of the area.

What will my recovery involve?

Finally, talk with your doctor about the recovery process for your surgery and what to expect. These types of questions might include:

Working with an expert you can trust can ensure you make the right decisions surrounding your skin cancer treatment, so you can face your surgery with confidence. And part of that means asking the right questions before you even step into the operating room.

If you have skin cancer, Dr. deVilleneuve can guide you through your diagnosis and treatment options. To learn more, call 972-525-0245 or book an appointment online with Surgical Associates of North Texas today.

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