Dr. Kenneth Reed has had decades of special training and experience in accurately identifying different types of skin cancer. His knowledge allows him to devise custom treatment plans for his Massachusetts patients suffering from skin cancer.
- 1 About Skin Cancer
- 2 Who is Susceptible?
- 3 Common Types of Skin Cancer
- 4 Treatments We Offer
- 5 Recovery
- 6 How to Help Prevent Skin Cancer
- 7 How to Perform a Self-Exam
- 8 When To Follow Up With Dr. Reed
- 9 Cost of Treatment
About Skin Cancer
One of the most common forms of cancer for Americans is skin cancer. Skin cancer occurs on a cellular level, when cells begin to replicate at an advanced rate without ceasing. As the cells continue to multiply, they begin to dominate over healthy cells. The cause of skin cancers can range depending on several factors contributing to a patient’s likelihood of contracting skin cancer. Skin cancer is more commonly caused by excessive sun damage to the skin cells. This form of cancer comes in different forms and can require a range of treatment options.
When skin cancer forms, the disease can quickly reproduce the cellular mutation while spreading it to other skin cells. As the skin cell defect continues to grow, the onset of malignant tumors can begin to form.
Patients are encouraged to perform self-exams, and if they notice anything out of the ordinary, are urged to follow up with Dr. Reed. Feel free to schedule a consultation for you or your child today.
Who is Susceptible?
Skin cancer can affect anyone and can be caused by an assortment of variables:
- Family history of skin cancer
- Fair skinned
- Increased appearance of moles
- Excessive time spent outside/direct sunlight
- Indoor & outdoor tanning
Common Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer does not come in a “one-size-fits-all” form. There are different types of skin cancer, and depending on the types of cancer, different treatment options are recommended.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
Basal Cell Carcinoma, is the most common type of skin cancer. BCC can often bear a resemblance to a rash, similar to the appearance of psoriasis or eczema. BCC can appear on some patients as a shiny scar with nonsymmetrical sides. When BCC presents this way, even though the scar may look small, it is possible the tumor is much larger or deeper under the surface of the skin.
BBC can be easily treated when caught early enough. BCC can rapidly spread to the cells of the surrounding area when gone untreated. When BCC goes untreated it can cause deformity to the skin, nerves, bone and muscle tissue. Patients who have larger BCC tumors removed may require skin grafting. Unlike other skin cancers, Basal Cell Carcinoma seldom moves to other parts of the body, but in some extreme cases can become life threatening.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous Cell Carcinoma, is the second most common type of skin cancer men and women can develop. The onset of SCC can appear as red bumps like a rash, or as an open wound that heals and then re-opens, or as a nodule. This type of skin cancer tends to appear on patients face, neck and hands area.
Melanoma is another type of skin cancer. Melanoma forms in the skin’s layer where pigment cells reside and can rapidly spread through a patient’s body. Melanoma can be life-threatening when gone untreated.
Nodular Melanoma is one form of melanoma and can appear as lump or “dome-shaped” that continues to enlarge over the period of a few weeks or months. Nodular Melanoma tends to present in patient’s neck and head areas. This type of skin cancer when untreated can quickly and forcefully spread throughout the patient’s body.
Merkel Cell Carcinoma
Merkel Cell Carcinoma is a very rare type of skin cancer that occurs in Merkel Cells. These cells lay close to nerve endings under the skin. The appearance of Merkel Cell Carcinoma can show as red or pink bumps on the patient’s skin. This type of cancer can occur anywhere in a patient’s body and is more commonly caused by overexposure to the sun.
Depending on the type of skin cancer present, during the consultation, Dr. Reed will develop a detailed treatment plan for each patient.
Treatments We Offer
Mohs Micrographic Surgery
Mohs Micrographic Surgery is one of the most successful treatments for treating skin cancer, and is often the treatment of choice for facial lesions, recurrent skin cancers, or those that have aggressive pathology. This treatment option is performed by Dr. Reed using a scalpel to make an incision around the suspected skin cancer. The tumor is then surgically removed. Next, a layer of the tumor will be biopsied and checked under a microscope. Depending on the lab results, Dr. Reed may need to perform the procedure again, to remove any remaining cancerous cells.
This procedure is highly effective at removing cancer cells in areas that are more difficult to treat like eyes, lips, hands, and lower legs.
The benefit of Mohs Micrographic Surgery allows Dr. Reed to have more control over which parts of tissue need removal. This allows for neighboring healthy tissue to remain intact. The direct approach also allows for to a higher success rate in removing the cancer cells, resulting in a decreased the necessity to repeat the procedure.
Electrosurgery is performed using a tool called a curette, which is comprised of a sharp, ring-shaped tip. The curette is used to scrape the present tumor off of the patient’s skin. Dr. Reed will use an electrocautery needle, which is very hot, to strategically burn away any lingering tumor cells. Each time the needle is passed over the affected area it penetrates deeper into the skin’s tissue layers. This procedure is effective in treating smaller tumors and well circumscribed or well defined tumors.
Cryosurgery utilizes intense cooling with liquid nitrogen to destroy more superficial tumors related to skin cancer. Using an applicator or spray, Dr. Reed will apply liquid nitrogen to the tumor site which freezes the tumor. This process is repeated several times. The frozen tumor will begin to scab until it falls off a few weeks after Cryosurgery treatment.
Excisional Surgery, similar to Mohs Micrographic Surgery, uses a scalpel to remove the growth. This procedure is done by surgically removing the tumor as well as surrounding tissue as a precaution. The incision site will then be closed with the use of stitches or sutures, depending on size and location of the growth. A biopsy of the tumor will then be sent to a laboratory to determine if there are any remaining cancer cells present. The main distinction from Mohs surgery is that with Mohs the removed tissue is examined immediately within the office to ensure complete removal of cancer cells.
Radiation can be used to treat skin cancer but can have additional side-effects, and requires multiple daily trips to a radiation facility. Radiation is usually recommended for patients that are older or unable to undergo surgery. Radiation uses X-ray beams that directly target the tumor.
There are a variety of treatments available to address skin cancer, determining which treatment option is best, patients are advised to contact Dr. Reed to schedule a consultation.
Following skin cancer removal, patient’s recovery will be dependent upon which treatment was used for extraction. Patients who undergo a surgical removal process such as Mohs Micrographic Surgery or Excisional Surgery will require stitches in order to close the open wound. Patients that receive stitches after surgery will need to follow up with Dr. Reed for removal as well as follow up care. After the incision site has been closed, patients may experience slight discomfort depending on how large of a growth was removed as well as incision size and location. Pain medication can be prescribed if desired. These patients will notice some bruising or swelling of the area, but these will diminish on their own over the following week.
Patients who undergo a nonsurgical treatment method to remove a growth can expect minimal to no recovery time. Treatments such as cryosurgery or topical medications have no recovery time, but patients should be aware of some apparent side-effects.
After cryosurgery, some patients have noticed itching or redness of the treatment area. Other patients notice some tenderness or swelling at the site.
Once a patient has undergone skin cancer removal treatment, the patient will want to keep the area clean as well as limit sun exposure. Even though the skin cancer may be completely removed, these patients are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer again. Patients are recommended to take all necessary precautions when outside, such as wearing sunblock and hats to limit skin exposure. Patients are also encouraged to perform habitual self-exam checks throughout the year and follow up with Dr. Reed for any necessary treatment.
How to Help Prevent Skin Cancer
Developing skin cancer can be overwhelming for patients. Preventing and checking for skin cancer can be done in the comfort of a patient’s home through a self-exam. Patients should conduct a monthly physical exam, but also regularly follow up with Dr. Reed to verify by a doctor that no new moles or growths have formed. Patients looking to reduce their chances of skin cancer are recommended to wear protection when spending extended periods of time outdoors or when exposed to excessive Ultraviolet Radiation (UV rays) such as continuous indoor tanning use.
How to Perform a Self-Exam
Patients interested in performing a skin cancer self-exam are encouraged to go online and download a body map. A body map allows patients to mark on the map any current moles, marks, or growths found on their body during the self-exam. Patients can use map prior to consultation with Dr. Reed to discuss specific areas of concern as well as note any suspicion moles of growths to monitor.
To begin the self-exam, patients will need a hand-held mirror while also standing in front of a full-body mirror. Patients should be completely naked for the self-exam to be able to see their skin and body clearly. Patients will want to look for the following ABCDE’s while performing the self-exam:
- A – Asymmetry: Do the sides match up? Or are they different on each side?
- B – Border: Is the border blurry?
- C – Color: Is their color change present throughout the mark?
- D – Diameter: Is the mole or growth bigger than a pencil eraser?
- E – Evolving: Does the mole, mark, or growth change in appearance?
Patients will be able to note any marks found on their body while asking the above questions for each suspicions growth. Patients should start at their head and move the exam down their body, paying close attention to underarms, top of the head, in between fingers and toes, as well as genitals and breasts.
When To Follow Up With Dr. Reed
Following the ABCDE key points can help patients note any marks throughout their body, which allows the patient to follow up with their doctor to discuss any irregularities found. Using the above ABCDE layout can be helpful in determining if a growth is melanoma in nature, but not as effective in diagnosing other types of skin cancer. Patients who notice a mole or growth that changes in appearance, itchy, or bleeding should immediately follow up with Dr. Reed to determine if the growth is cancerous in nature.
Cost of Treatment
The cost of skin cancer treatments is dependent upon which procedure is advised and the extent of the concern area. The cost varies between surgical and nonsurgical procedures, as well as the frequency of the procedure needs. To determine the exact cost, patients are encouraged to set up a consultation with Dr. Reed to discuss treatment in detail.