Skin Cancer (BCC, SCC, and Melanoma) – San Francisco, CA*

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About Skin Cancer

The three major types of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Each type is named according to the type of skin cell it affects. When cells at the base of the epidermis are affected, it is a basal cell carcinoma. When the cells in the upper layers are affected, it is a squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, affects the pigment cells of the skin. It appears as a black or brown mole. At Pacific Skin San Francisco, we are so proud to provide our patients with the most advanced and effective skin cancer treatments available. Tracy Evans, M.D. is a dermatologist specializing in skin cancer and is fellowship-trained to perform Mohs surgery. 

Causes

Most cases of skin cancer are triggered by ultraviolet radiation damage to the DNA within skin cells that controls their turnover and growth. This type of UV-ray damage is caused by overexposure to the sun and the use of tanning beds. You may have heard that "there is no such thing as a safe tan," and this is unfortunately true. Skin cancers may also develop without any UV-ray damage; having fair skin, many moles, or a family history of skin cancer are also risk factors. The most important things you can do to prevent skin cancer are to avoid long-term sun exposure, wear sun-protective clothing, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, never use tanning beds, and have annual skin exams.

Symptoms

It is important to know the different indicators and symptoms of skin cancer so you know what to look for in self-checks:

  • Crusty or scaly spots or patches anywhere on the body that is often exposed to sunlight
  • Pearly or flesh-colored bumps
  • Lesions that look like scars but are new
  • Firm, shiny bumps
  • Non-healing sores

The ABCDE list is a helpful guide to check for melanomas:

  • A: Asymmetrical mole (one side is a different size or shape than the other)
  • B: Borders (malignant moles do not have defined borders)
  • C: Color (a malignancy won't be uniform in color)
  • D: Diameter (malignancies typically grow larger than 6 millimeters in diameter)
  • E: Evolving (malignant moles evolve and change in appearance)

Treatment Options

The treatment selected for your unique case will depend on the size, location, depth, stage, and type of skin cancer. Most of the options provided at Pacific Skin San Francisco involve the full removal of the growth, which is the most effective form of treatment. Our removal procedures are typically quite simple and are performed on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia. Below are some of the skin cancer treatments provided at Pacific Skin San Francisco: 

  • Mohs surgery is a very effective removal method for many types of skin cancer. This procedure can take a bit longer than other surgical methods because the lesion or tumor is removed in layers, and each layer is examined under a microscope on-site to check for cancerous cells.
  • Surgical excision is used for smaller, easy-to-reach skin cancers. We will administer a local anesthetic, and then the cancer will 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.
  • Laser therapy is performed with a Fraxel laser, commonly associated with more cosmetic treatments, and is primarily used to treat actinic keratoses. Sometimes combined with other topical treatments, this procedure can be effective in reducing cancerous and precancerous lesions on the skin.
  • Topical treatments in the form of creams, gels, or ointments may be used to help treat precancerous cells or skin cancer, depending on the site, size, and diagnosis. This can be an effective option for many individuals, but Dr. Evans will perform a thorough assessment and biopsy to determine if this is the best treatment option for you.

Protect your skin

To reduce your overall risk of skin cancer, it is important to avoid excessive sun exposure, always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, and never use tanning beds. It is also best to have skin cancer screenings at least once a year — or twice a year if you have a family history or personal past with skin cancer. Visit Dr. Tracy Evans at Pacific Skin San Francisco for exams, detection, and treatment from an experienced specialist. 

Related Procedures

*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.