Skin cancers are persistent growths that occur on the skin, usually in areas that have been overly exposed to the sun or UVA rays from tanning beds. There are three types of skin cancers: melanoma and the two non-melanoma skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). After a lifetime of unprotected UV exposure from the sun or tanning beds, the skin accumulates DNA damage that causes the skin cells to begin dividing out of control. When that damage becomes extensive enough, skin cancer develops. At Legacy Dermatology & Restoration Center, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Dharamsi offers several treatment options for BCC and SCC, including skin cancer screenings, to confirm a proper diagnosis (also see our melanoma page for the treatment of melanoma skin cancer). We also employ a highly trained and experienced team of practitioners who work diligently to ensure you receive the best care possible. Call Legacy Dermatology & Restoration Center in Frisco, TX to schedule a private consultation today.
BCCs are flat or raised, shiny, flesh- or pink-colored, non-scaly growths with overlying dilated blood vessels that usually occur on the face or upper torso. SCCs are growths with adherent scale that often appear on the face, scalp, ears, lips, arms, or legs. SCCs often start as actinic keratosis (AKs). While some skin cancers don’t have any symptoms, they can sometimes be itchy, painful, bleeding, or firm at the base.
When the tumor forms from cells at the base of the epidermis, it is called a basal cell carcinoma, and when the tumor forms from cells at the upper layers of the epidermis, it is called a squamous cell carcinoma. These growths look and behave differently. We know that BCCs seem to be associated with a history of intermittent intense sun exposure (think sunburns on a beach vacation) while SCCs are most often caused by longstanding sun exposure (think golfers, farmers, or outdoor workers).
"So incredibly impressed with Legacy Dermatopathology. I have severe rosacea and am finally getting treatment for it. I can already see amazing results after only 1 treatment!"- C.N. / Google / Mar 04, 2019
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"This was the absolute best doctors visit ever! The office is gorgeous, the staff was so friendly and helpful, and the doctor was just fabulous! Bonus: they were so sweet and patient with my 3 small children. I highly recommend!"- M.K. / Facebook / Jan 09, 2020
"Best experience! Dr Jennifer and her assistant were so kind! My face is cleared up! And IN 3 DAYS!!!!!"- B.D. / Facebook / Dec 19, 2019
"My visits and the recent Mohs surgery have always been professional and timely. Dr. Dharamsi's staff is very friendly, kind and informative. I have recommended Dr.Dharamsi to family and friends and will continue to do so. I could not be happier trusting Dr. Dharamsi with my dermatology needs."- M.R. / Healthgrades / Dec 19, 2019
If you suspect you have any of the above symptoms or are concerned about an abnormal skin growth, call Legacy Dermatology & Restoration Center in Frisco, TX. Dr. Dharamsi can perform a full skin screening to determine if you have a basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma.
By seeing a dermatologist for regular check-ups, skin cancers can be identified and treated as early as possible, which gives the best outcomes. When skin cancer is suspected, we perform a simple in-office procedure called a shave biopsy to take a sample of the lesion to make a microscopic diagnosis. Once we have identified the skin cancer and its subtype, we will recommend a treatment approach, which may involve one of the following:
- Surgical excision: This is an invasive procedure. For smaller, easy-to-reach skin cancers, a local anesthetic will be administered. If a skin growth is larger and in a more difficult location, general anesthesia might be required. Prior to surgery, Dr. Dharamsi will thoroughly clean the treatment area and administer anesthesia. The cancer will then be excised using a scalpel and horizontal cuts around the growth and surrounding tissue. Small excisions can be sewn closed while larger excisions may need a skin graft to close up the wound.
- Electrodesiccation and curettage (ED&C): This is an outpatient, nonsurgical procedure at Legacy Dermatology & Restoration Center in Frisco, TX that removes benign, dysplastic, or cancerous skin growths. This simple procedure treats small lesions by scraping the skin to the unaffected layer. The procedure gets rid of cancerous lesions on the skin, as well as growths that are diagnosed as benign.
- Mohs surgery: This is a skin cancer removal surgery that addresses basal and squamous cell carcinomas, melanomas, and other skin cancers. This procedure uses a local anesthetic to numb the target area as the cancerous tissue is carefully removed with a surgical tool layer by layer.
- Topical chemotherapy cream: This will be used to treat your skin cancer, depending on the type and its stage. This can be an effective option for many individuals, but Dr. Dharamsi will perform a thorough assessment and biopsy to determine if you are an ideal candidate for this treatment option.
We will discuss the treatment options and our recommendations when we call you with your biopsy results. The technique used to address your concerns will depend on the type of skin cancer, progression, location, and depth. Dr. Dharamsi and our team of seasoned practitioners are here to help walk you through the entire process so you understand all your options and what will be best for you and your needs.
What to Expect
The treatment process and recovery will vary, depending on the technique used to remove your skin cancer.
Surgical Excision: The length of your recovery and downtime is contingent on the location and size of the particular excision, as well as whether skin grafts were required to complete your treatment. After your surgery, you may experience a burning sensation or general discomfort in the area where the skin cancer was removed. For the first few days following the surgery, you are advised to take an over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen, to alleviate pain. You can also expect some scarring, which will appear red at first but will lighten over time. Numerous creams or gels can be used to help limit scarring. To protect the wound, a bandage should be placed on the treatment site when in the sun.
Electrodesiccation and curettage: Following your procedure, it is very important that you follow the instructions given to you by Dr. Dharamsi so that your skin heals properly. You can remove your bandages after 24 hours to clean the procedure site and then change the dressing. Dr. Dharamsi may also prescribe or suggest an ointment to use on the area.
Mohs surgery: This is usually an outpatient procedure, but patients will need to refrain from strenuous activity for 1 – 2 weeks. Sutures will also be removed around this timeframe. Scarring will vary, depending on the type of cancer, its location, stage, and depth, but Dr. Dharamasi can perform a scar revision to help minimize scarring even further.
Topical chemotherapy cream: Typically, you will apply your topical chemotherapy treatment on your own in the privacy of your home. The cream is normally applied a couple of times every day for several weeks. Our office will provide detailed instructions regarding your treatment once we determine if this is the best option for you. It's important to adhere to Dr. Dharamsi's instructions to ensure optimal results and recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do we get them?
Skin cancers form due to years of extensive sun exposure or indoor tanning. Bottom line, there is no such thing as a "safe" tan, and exposing your skin to harsh UV rays can increase your risk of skin cancer. In addition, we cannot overemphasize the importance of protecting our children from the sun while they are still young since it seems the skin is especially sensitive to sun damage before the age of 18.
How can they be prevented?
The best protection against skin cancer is to minimize excessive sun exposure, wear sun-protective clothing, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (reapplying every 80 minutes when in direct sunlight), and avoid tanning beds. With a little extra effort and a commitment to developing sun-safe habits, you can still enjoy a reasonable amount of fun in the sun, which will reduce your chances of acquiring skin cancer.
Protect Your Skin
We recommend that all adults with a history of heavy sun exposure — past or current — come in for a full body skin check at least once a year. Please consider starting some new sun-safe habits — it is never too late to prevent further risk of skin cancers. Call our office in Frisco, TX to schedule your skin exam with Dr. Dharamsi.