Types of Skin Cancer
While melanoma is a serious diagnosis, the treatments for melanoma have improved substantially in recent years, and most patients require a simple surgical procedure as their treatment. Fortunately, the majority of melanomas are diagnosed in the early stages (either Stage 0, also known as melanoma in situ, or Stage Ia). All patients with a melanoma should be thoroughly evaluated by a physician experienced in melanoma, and many patients may see a surgeon who specializes in melanoma surgery. At Naaman Clinic, Dr. Bailey focuses on patient care and experience that is highly personalized, maintaining an atmosphere of open communication, education, and individualized care as patients are evaluated and treated for their skin cancer diagnosis.
The initial assessment of melanoma patients is very important, as 7-9% of melanoma patients have more than one melanoma, 5% of patients may have melanoma in the lymph nodes that can be felt on exam, and an even higher proportion will have other skin cancers a the time of their melanoma diagnosis. Dr. Bailey understands that each melanoma is different and each patient is different, so the type of surgery depends on a number of factors that Dr. Bailey will review on the initial melanoma surgery visit.
Some patients require a simple, one-visit surgery to remove their melanoma, whereas other patients may require a series of surgeries to remove their melanoma and reconstruct the surgical site. A subset of patients may also require surgical evaluation of the lymph nodes or imaging studies. The current standard of care for melanoma treatment is established by the National Cancer Center Network (NCCN) and is revised annually, and Dr. Bailey adheres to these evidence-based treatment guidelines as do all major cancer centers in the United States. Dr Bailey trained with multiple NCCN panel members who define these treatment guidelines and co-wrote a guide with these panel members for physicians on the treatment of all types of melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer, with over one million cases diagnosed in the Untied States each year. Basal cell carcinomas invade and destroys any tissue in contact with the cancer, and the carcinoma will not stop growing unless removed. While it is not common for basal cell carcinomas to metastasize, they can still be harmful if they are neglected or treated incorrectly.
Basal cell carcinoma starts in the top layer of the skin, and symptoms may include a skin bump or growth that is pearly or waxy, white or light pink, or flesh colored or brown.
There are a variety of treatments for basal cell carcinomas including surgery, non-surgical procedures, topical medications, and radiation. The location and type of basal cell carcinoma determines the appropriate treatment options available. For locations where it is important to conserve as much tissue as possible (face, neck, scalp, hands & feet, genitals), Mohs micrographic surgery is the standard of care due to its high cure rate (greater than 98% for most tumors) and its ability to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible.
Improper treatment of basal cell carcinoma, such as the freezing or cauterizing of the tumor, can lead to a more aggressive local spread of the cancer. Any tumor that has been treated and is recurrent should be treated with Mohs micrographic surgery, and Mohs is indicated as best practice for removal of tumors of the eyelid and orbit. Dr. Bailey specializes in eyelid and tear duct tumor removal and is a staff surgeon at the Callahan Eye Hospital.
Dr. Bailey’s training and experience, he is able to create customized treatment plans for the removal of basal cell carcinoma. A thorough consultation, in depth knowledge, and the best technology available allow for the patient to have confidence in their treatment and recovery.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer, with approximately 700,000 tumors diagnosed in the United States each year. Like basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas will continue to grow, spread, and destroy surrounding tissue unless they are fully removed. Squamous cell carcinomas, however, can grow faster and some (2-5%) can spread beyond the skin to the lymph nodes.
The vast majority of squamous cell carcinomas can be easily treated with Mohs micrographic surgery. In more aggressive tumors, there are a series of features that Dr. Bailey evaluates to determine the risk of tumor spread and metastasis. In some patients with tumors that possess high-risk features, Dr. Bailey may perform imaging studies or recommend additional treatments after surgery.
Dr. Bailey is a member of the multidisciplinary tumor board at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He will present any case of a tumor possessing high-risk features to this tumor board to ensure that a consensus opinion from multiple specialities is obtained for high-risk skin cancers. With Dr. Bailey’s knowledge and training, combined with that of an expert board consisting of multiple Mohs Micrographic surgeons, head and neck surgeons, surgical oncologists, occuloplastics surgeons, radiation oncologists, and radiologists, patients at the Naaman Clinic can be assured that every effort has been made to develop the best possible treatment plan.