The treatment of skin cancer is an intensely personal undertaking that requires a commitment to sensitivity and detail throughout the process. By working closely with the patient to ensure that their questions are answered and their needs are understood, the treatment of skin cancer may be completed in such a way that scarring and changes in appearance are kept to an absolute minimum. In order to provide the best possible treatment, a variety of procedures may need to be undertaken, possibly in conjunction with one another.
One key factor for any skin cancer procedure is the knowledge that the scope of the procedure may change at any point during the surgery. Once underneath the surface of the skin, additional material may need to be removed in order to ensure the complete elimination of cancerous material. In this respect, visible cancerous lesions may sometimes be simply the tip of the iceberg, with the majority of the cancerous material underneath the surface. In these situations, reconstruction following the procedure may be required.
FAQ About Skin Cancer
What are the steps of the Skin Cancer procedure?
Intravenous sedation, local anesthetic or a general anesthetic will be used at the surgeon's discretion to ensure the patient's complete comfort during the procedure. For simple excision of small lesions, a basic incision is made, the lesion excised, and the wound sutured with a simple closure to ensure minimal scarring.
For deeper lesions, or lesions which are revealed to be more extensive then previously believed, the surgeon may undertake Mohs surgery, in which layers of the lesion are precisely removed in a progressive manner until the entire area is cancer-free. The goal at the end of any skin cancer surgery is for the incision area to have a clear margin, which means no detectable cancerous tissue. A frozen section may be ordered, in which a thin slice of tissue is sent for examination prior to the closing of the wound area.
Following removal of all cancerous tissue, new tissue is either grafted onto the wound or moved over from adjacent areas and the incision is closed.
Who is an ideal candidate for Skin Cancer?
The outcome of skin cancer procedures depends greatly on the particular type and severity of the cancerous lesions, as well as the overall health of the patient. Patients who are generally healthy, exercise regularly, have a healthy diet and do not smoke are the best candidates for a positive outcome, though each individual case is different and results cannot be guaranteed prior to the procedure.
What happens after the procedure?
After surgery, the incision sites may be red, swollen or draining fluid. Various wound care instructions may be given depending on the extent of the procedure, with skin grafts requiring additional attention and healing time. The incision lines may take weeks or months to fully heal, and should continue to fade for up to a year. Depending on the particular procedure, it may be necessary to return for additional revisionary surgery or work with a wound care specialist toachieve the best healing outcome.
Are there any side effects?
As with any surgery, there is a minor risk of side effects, including bleeding, swelling, infection, poor healing, scarring, cancer recurrence or spreading, skin irregularities, pain and the possibility of revisionary surgery. One of the major risks of skin cancer surgery is the possibility that skin grafts may not take completely, prompting a slow or belabored healing process. Following all post-operative instruction can help ensure the best outcome for skin grafts and other procedures.
Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Feledy to Learn More
Dr. Feledy conveniently maintains offices in Stafford, VA and Chevy Chase, MD. For more information about skin cancer procedures or to schedule a personal consultation at either location, contact Dr. Feledy's office at 301-654-5666 or 540-891-0040.