Skin Cancer

Identifying and treating skin cancer is also a major focus of our practice at MIAMI DERMATOLOGY AND LASER INSTITUTE (MDLI) in Miami. Our board certified dermatologists have received world-class training and possess exquisite skill in all facets of skin cancer treatment from diagnosis, treatment, Mohs surgery for thorough removal, and of course prevention techniques to help protect you and your family for sun damage.

There are three common forms of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell Carcinoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Malignant Melanoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and also the most common of all cancers. Basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads to other areas of the body, it will continue to grow and destroy healthy skin. Basal cell carcinomas initially may have the appearance of a small pimple, a non-healing or bleeding sore, shiny papule, cyst or other type of lesion. The board certified dermatologist of MIAMI DERMATOLOGY AND LASER INSTITUTE (MDLI) in Miami will perform a full body check to determine if further examination is needed. The diagnosis or basal cell carcinoma will be confirmed with a biopsy.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and is more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma. This form of skin cancer can potentially spread to the nearby glands or lymph nodes or travel through the bloodstream to other areas of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma usually appears as a rough, scaly bump or larger growth. Diagnosis is confirmed with a biopsy performed by our dermatologists, and pathologic evaluation of the tissue.

Malignant Melanoma is the most aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer. If undetected early enough, these tumors may spread to local lymph nodes or anywhere in the body. However, a melanoma is caught early, it may be cured by surgical excision. The tumor often appears as a brown or black patch, or as an unusual mole that is growing or changes shape.

There are many risk factors for the development of skin cancer. Accumulated exposure to UV radiation is the greatest risk factor. Skin cancer does occur more frequently in people with fair complexions (blonde hair and blue eyes), however, darker skinned individuals may also develop skin cancer. Heredity and environment also play a role.

Our dermatologists recommend daily application of adequate amount of broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater as the most important preventative measure. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing is also recommended if you will be outdoors during peak sun hours.

What is a biopsy?

A Biopsy is the removal of a small sample of skin that is used to confirm diagnosis and determine the best course of treatment. Our dermatologists will send your biopsy to a dermatopathologist or pathologists who will examine the sample under a microscope and render a diagnosis. With this knowledge your dermatologist will be able to recommend the most appropriate treatment plan.

To find out which treatment is right for you, schedule a consultation with one of our expert board certified dermatologists at MIAMI DERMATOLOGY AND LASER INSTITUTE (MDLI) in Miami today. DO NOT WAIT to be seen if you have a suspicious lesion.

Skin cancer can be treated effectively by a variety of methods, including traditional surgery, desiccation and curettage (scraping and burning), freezing (cryosurgery), X-ray (radiation therapy) and Mohs Micrographic Surgery. At MDLI, the treatment of skin cancer is individualized, taking into consideration many factors including your age, location of the cancer, type of cancer and whether or not the cancer has been treated previously. In some instances, more than one type of therapy may be appropriate for a particular skin cancer.

Mohs Surgery

Mohs Micrographic Surgery is an advanced treatment procedure for skin cancer that offers the highest cure rate and smallest scars. The Mohs technique combines surgery with microscopic examination of the tissue to remove non-melanoma skin tumors down to their roots. This procedure is most often used in treating basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Mohs surgery is commonly used for skin cancers in anatomic areas in which preservation of the maximum amount of surrounding healthy tissue is critical for cosmetic or functional reasons, such as the face, hands and feet. The Mohs procedure may also be used for very large tumors on the body or for aggressive cancer subtypes.

Another important advantage of the Mohs procedure is the complete examination of 100 percent of the margins which greatly reduces the likelihood of recurrence. According to the American College for Mohs Surgery, clinical studies have demonstrated that Mohs surgery provides five-year cure rates approaching 99% for newly diagnosed. By removing only tissue where cancer is known to be present, this technique combines a very high cure rate with the best cosmetic result.

Your MDLI dermatologist will consider multiple factors to determine whether Mohs surgery is right for your particular skin cancer treatment.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy is a combination chemical-laser treatment that causes the destruction of precancerous lesions and photo damage. PDT is unique in that it is both a medical and cosmetic treatment rolled into one.

PDT can be used to prevent future pre-skin cancer and skin cancer. The results are brighter, smoother, younger, healthier, rejuvenated skin. This procedure has been proven to be effective for acne as well.

How does Photodynamic therapy (PDT) work?

When aminolevulenic acid is applied to the skin, it is converted to a natural and potent photosensitizer. Illumination with a high intensity light or a laser causes an oxidation reaction in the treated skin resulting in destruction of the target. Precancerous lesions and pilosebaceous units (hair follicles and oil glands) preferentially absorb aminolevulinic acid that results in targeted therapy with minimal damage to surrounding tissue.

What conditions can be treated with PDT?

Photodynamic therapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of pre-cancerous lesions (actinic keratoses), photodamaged skin (solar lentigines or age spots), acne, sebaceous hyperplasia, and a number of other skin conditions. Photodynamic therapy improves acne by decreasing the bacteria on the skin and shrinking the oil-producing glands.

What are the side effects of PDT?

Some patients experience mild stinging upon application of the Aminolevulinic acid and during the light or laser treatment. Most patients experience no discomfort.

The most common side effects following Photodynamic therapy are:

  • Photosensitivity – Aminolevulinic acid is a light-activated compound, rendering the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light. It is extremely important that ALL sun exposure be avoided for 24-36 hours after treatment. Because it is possible for enough sun to penetrate windows to produce a sunburn, regular use of sunscreen with zinc or titanium oxide is mandatory.
  • Itching/Burning – Mild itching or burning of the skin can occur in the first 30 to 60 minutes following the procedure and over the week.
  • Redness – moderate redness may be experienced for seven days following the procedure. Nothing should be applied to the treated skin that is not instructed by your MDLI dermatologist. Even skin products that have been used in the past can irritate the skin if applied within the week after treatment.
  • Swelling – areas most likely to swell are around the eyes. Application of ice or cold gel packs and ingestion of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as Advil, Aleve, Motrin, may minimize swelling and are strongly recommended.
  • Peeling – peeling of the treated skin could occur several days following the procedure and can be alleviated with the application of a thick, fragrance-free moisturizer.

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