The 6 Best Treatments For Skin Cancer On The Face
Skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the U.S., affects a growing number of people each year, raising public awareness and concern as we seek better ways to both prevent and treat the disease.
In the U.S., over three million people receive a non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosis each year, with rates of malignant melanoma, one of the most serious forms of the disease, rising significantly in recent years, with more than 87,000 people expected to receive a diagnosis in 2017. People who experience skin cancer may even develop multiple cases of it each year.
“In fact, skin cancer has become so prevalent that the number of new cases annually exceeds the number of breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer diagnoses combined,” reveals Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified Dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas.
While exposure to dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun usually receives the blame for causing skin cancer, particularly malignant melanoma, the disease has also been linked to chemicals and other exposures as well.
One of the more common areas where skin cancer manifests is the face, including the lips, cheeks, forehead, scalp, eyelids, and nose. These areas also prove challenging to treat.
Three common types of skin cancer include:
Basel Cell Carcinoma: “The most common form of skin cancer, these growths do not usually spread to other parts of the body like malignant melanomas, but they can prove quite serious” says Dr. Mamelak. They may resemble open sores or pink bumps that just do not seem to go away. They occur in the basal cells of the epidermis, or the skin’s top layer.
Squamous Cells Carcinoma: The second most common form of skin cancer, squamous cells are a type of epithelial cell, found in the skin as well as tissues lining the body’s cavities, organs, and blood vessels. While symptoms vary, tumors can resemble a red ulcer and usually manifests on areas of the skin that have received significant exposure to the sun, including lips.
Malignant Melanoma: Often the most aggressive form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma can spread quickly to other organs and should receive treatment immediately.
“Each of these types of skin cancer can occur on the face, presenting unique challenges for treating the disease,” states Dr. Mamelak.
Some of the best treatments for skin cancer on the nose and face include:
- Mohs Surgery: “Often considered the most effective way to treat skin cancer on the face or nose, Mohs Surgery allows doctors to perform small incisions only at the affected area to remove the cancerous cells, rather than having to cut away large sections of healthy skin tissue,” Dr. Mamelak explains. Doctors can also test the remaining skin during the surgery to ensure no cancerous cells remain.
- Excision: This procedure requires the doctor to surgically cut out the cancer cells and may prove challenging to perform on areas of the face, where surgical margins can extend into cosmetic and functionally important anatomic areas.
- Electrodessication and Curettage (ED&C): Appropriate for smaller instances of Basel Cell Carcinoma, this treatment involves scraping away the surface of the cancer, then searing the base to kill the cancer cells.
- Radiation: Used in patients for larger tumors or tumors on areas like the eyes, nose, or ears where surgery can prove difficult. Doctors may also elect to use radiation treatment when the skin cancer has already spread to other areas of the body.
- Topical Chemotherapy: Dermatologists will often use topical chemotherapy creams to help treat pre-cancerous areas. Patients apply the cream several times a day over the course of a few weeks, which can prevent the cells from turning cancerous if caught early enough.
- Freezing: Appropriate for precancerous and selected cancerous legions that do not penetrate deep within the skin. Surgeons freeze the cancer cells using liquid nitrogen, thereby killing them.
If you would like more information on how to treat skin cancer on the face or in other locations, please contact us Sanova Dermatology today to discuss your treatment options.