Support and Excellent Care on Your Skin Cancer Journey
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. When it is caught early, it is very treatable. Even so, being diagnosed with cancer can be overwhelming and scary. Your team includes a specialist from many areas working together who help patients just like you every day.
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the out-of-control growth of abnormal cells on your skin. It is highly treatable when diagnosed and treated early. Types of skin cancer include:
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
- Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).
The main cause of skin cancer is damage from ultraviolet rays either from the sun or UV tanning machines.
If you have a spot of concern on your skin, talk to your primary care provider, who may refer you to a dermatologist, plastic surgeon or surgeon.
Skin Cancer Screening
Skin cancer is cancer you can see. If you have a new, changing, or unusual spot on your skin, get checked by your primary care provider right away. You can look for:
- A growth that increases in size and appears pearly, transparent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored.
- A mole, birthmark or brown spot that increases in size, thickness, changes color or texture or is bigger than a pencil eraser.
- A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab or bleed.
- An open sore that does not heal within three weeks.
We offer periodic skin screenings called “spot checks.” If you have a few spots that are of concern, you can have them checked at this free screening. If there is a concern, follow-up appointments with the appropriate specialist can be made at the screening. Co-pays and additional costs may apply to follow-up appointments.
An annual full-body visual skin exam by a dermatologist is recommended.
Skin Cancer Diagnosis
If a suspicious spot is found, your doctor performs a skin biopsy to determine if it is cancer and what type of cancer.
Skin Cancer Treatment
Your team in oncology works closely with dermatology and plastic and reconstructive surgery. Together with you, the team determines the best treatment plan. Plans are determined by skin cancer type and stage, location and size. Our goal is to remove all cancerous tissue with minimal cosmetic side effects.
Treatment options include:
- Excisional surgery, to cut out the cancerous tissue and some surrounding healthy skin
- Freezing and removal
- Photodynamic therapy to destroy cancer cells using light
- Radiation therapy
Skin Cancer Care at Guthrie
- Board-certified specialists– Your team of doctors at Guthrie includes specially trained dermatologists, plastic surgeons, surgeons and oncologists in the treatment of skin cancer. We are experts in caring for skin cancer, from catching skin cancer in early stages, to limiting scarring and treating advanced disease.
- Multidisciplinary conference – doctors and providers from across specialties to discuss every patient and organize the best treatment for her or him across the system
- Nurse navigator and social worker – cancer nurse navigators help you understand your diagnosis and guide you through the health system; social workers provide emotional support
- Clinical trials – Guthrie Clinical Research offers you treatment options not available in most hospitals.