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Skin Cancer

Skin cancer affects many people in Northern Michigan. Lighter skinned individuals who have extensive sun exposure are at high risk for this type of cancer, and in some cases, a genetic component can also contribute.Skin cancers tend to be common in families perhaps as a result of similar skin tone but also corresponding to certain genetic malformations as have been recently discovered.

The current treatment of choice for skin cancers involves close monitoring by your general practitioner or dermatologist. Often, precancerous lesion, such as actinic keratosis may be treated with topical therapies such as freezing. Eventually, if a skin cancer is diagnosed, you may be referred for definitive management of the condition and reconstruction.

Broadly speaking, skin cancers can be divided into three major subtypes:

Basal cell skin cancer is the most common variety and very rarely metastasizes. This makes up 90% of all skin cancers diagnosed and it is treated with simple excision with negative margins, meaning that the lesion has been completely removed. This is often treated in our office following Mohs’ surgery, in which a dermatologist may excise the tumor, followed by our creative reconstruction.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma makes up approximately 8% of skin cancers and is slightly more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma. When located on the lip or ear, these in particular can present with regional metastases to lymph nodes. If this is the case, a more in-depth procedure may be required; however, in most cases, the treatment is similar to basal cell carcinoma in that the tumor is completely excised with a low risk for recurrence. This may also be well treated by Mohs surgery and you may be referred to our office for subsequent reconstruction.

Melanoma is a skin cancer which affects a smaller percentage of the population; however, it is extremely common in our area as it afflicts lighter skinned individuals with a history of sun exposure. There is also a significant genetic component which can lead to early melanomas in a person’s 20s or 30s. Melanoma can be difficult to treat and it is prone to metastatic spread even at the time of the initial evaluation. For this reason, we address melanomas with particular haste. The Center’s surgeons offer the full spectrum of melanoma care, including wide local excision with reconstruction and sentinel lymph node biopsy, if necessary. We pride ourselves on offering state of the art surgical care for this disease and hope that our training and experience can make travel to distant cancer centers unnecessary as you will receive cutting edge care right here in Traverse City.

After the successful treatment of skin cancer, we expect that your appearance will be returned to normal. We work hard for this result, including the recommendation for post-surgical scar management which may include laser therapy or surgical scar revision. We take pride in the finished product of your reconstruction and have more than a thousand astounding outcomes to prove it. Notably, our office recommends close follow up with your dermatologist as our surgical care is no substitute for the watchful eyes of their expertise. Click here to return to the Skin Cancer page.