Skin Cancer Treatment Toronto
We all enjoy having fun in the sun, but without proper care for the skin across your face and body, that fun could result in premature aging and worse, skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer — yet with consistent screenings, it can be easy to catch and treat, especially in the early stages. By visiting your dermatologist for a skin cancer check today, you could save your life.
Skin Cancer Toronto
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer refers to any cancer that starts in your skin. There are several different types of skin cancer and each present with unique symptoms.
The two main types of skin cancer are melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. The latter has two main subtypes: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Because skin cancer is able to metastasize, meaning spread to nearby tissue and organs, it’s important to perform regular skin cancer checks to increase your chances of early detection and successful treatment. If you think you may have skin cancer, you should see your dermatologist immediately. Treating patients in the early stages of any condition, including in the case of skin cancers, is more likely to yield a successful outcome.
Remember that in many cases — depending on family history and other factors — skin cancer can be avoided. A sunburn can increase your risk of developing skin cancers, so never spend time outdoors without protection from sun exposure to maintain youthful and healthy skin.
In addition to wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen and protective clothing (such as UPF garments, large hats, and eyewear), steer clear of unnecessary sun exposure. Whenever possible, avoid spending time outdoors during the hours when the sun is at its strongest — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — and seek out shade.
When it comes to protecting your skin, don't take any chances and certainly don't believe any dangerous myths. Some patients believe that only those with fair skin need to wear SPF. The truth is that everyone, regardless of their skin tone, needs to wear a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher to defend their complexions against hazardous UVA and UVB rays.
Generally, you should reapply at least every two hours for effective protection, applying more frequently if you're sweating or swimming. Apply at least the equivalent of a full shotglass of sunscreen to your body and two fingertips' full of SPF to your face and neck to ensure your skin is adequately protected.
The most important part of using sunscreen is buying a formula you like and will look forward to using. We know it can be challenging to find a good sunscreen. At Facet Dermatology, we sell a range of professional-quality skincare formulas, including sunscreen, so you can support the health and beauty of your skin at home.
Symptoms of skin cancer
Every type of skin cancer presents with unique symptoms.
Non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) are the most common skin cancers. They typically occur on areas of the skin that are frequently exposed to UV rays, including the face, neck, scalp, hands, shoulders, arms, and back.
Basal cell carcinomas can look like a persistent, non-healing sore, a reddish patch or irritated area, a pink growth, or a scar-like lesion. Squamous cell cancer can look like a wart-like growth that crusts and occasionally bleeds, a persistent red patch with irregular borders, an open sore that persists for weeks, or an elevated growth or growth that rapidly increases in size. They often start as a rough scaly patch known as an actinic keratosis, which forms after years of exposure to the sun.
Keep in mind that just because a basal cell carcinoma or a squamous cell carcinoma is a "common form" of skin cancer doesn't mean it isn't dangerous. All skin cancers must be addressed and treated as quickly as possible.
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and are most commonly found on the body, usually the back and legs, but can appear anywhere on the epidermis, including locations like the mouth and eyes, as well as areas that aren’t typically exposed to the sun, such as the soles of your feet.
Melanoma can develop from a pre-existing mole that appears normal but then changes, or can appear as a new irregular-looking spot on the skin. Sometimes, one side of the mole looks quite different from the other half, with an irregular or poorly defined border. In many cases, but not always, melanoma are larger than a pencil eraser. You may also notice varying color within a melanoma; melanoma are also occasionally darker than other moles on your epidermis.
If you are suspicious of a new or existing mole, or are experiencing irritation or pain on a lesion on your skin, it is critical to have your skin examined. Because of how rapidly and vastly melanoma can spread, preventing its development is crucial: Melanoma can be fatal if left untreated.
Not all changes to your skin are caused by skin cancer, but if you are concerned, we encourage you to make an appointment at Facet Dermatology. During a skin cancer screening, Dr. Geeta Yadav thoroughly examines each patient, performing biopsy when necessary. A full skin check is always the first step to planning the appropriate treatment and management of skin cancer.
One of the best ways to ensure you never miss a skin cancer screening is by scheduling your annual appointment around your birthday. Once your birthday becomes synonymous with caring for yourself, you'll find it harder to forget!
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
There are different forms of minor surgery that can be utilized to treat skin cancer. At Facet Dermatology, our founder and dermatologist Dr. Geeta Yadav uses the following surgical techniques on her patients.
Cryotherapy is a quick, in-office procedure that uses extreme cold to rapidly destroy actinic keratoses, a common precursor to squamous cell cancer. During this treatment, liquid nitrogen is sprayed directly onto targeted skin lesions, freezing them and causing them to slough off on their own. The surrounding area is left unaffected to minimize the risk of scarring.
In order to clarify a skin cancer diagnosis, we may perform a punch biopsy, an in-office procedure in which a small, tube-shaped piece of skin is removed using a sharp cutting tool and subsequently examined under a microscope. In rare cases, we may prescribe blood tests as further diagnosis.
Shave with Curettage and Electrodesiccation
Used to remove basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, a curettage and electrodesiccation involves the use of a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette to scrape the affected skin surface and remove the cancerous tissue. The area is then cauterized to increase the chance of success and minimize bleeding.
Surgical excision removes the entirety of a skin growth that penetrates further into the skin. This form of surgery is typically performed under local anesthesia. Depending on the growth in question, we can also perform a deep shave removal.
Should more significant surgery be required to remove skin cancer, Dr. Yadav may refer you to a colleague that performs Mohs micrographic surgery. Mohs surgery is performed by painstakingly removing cancerous cells layer by layer, examining the patient at every stage until there is no more cancer present in the skin. In some cases, Mohs surgery may be performed in conjunction with plastic surgeons, who will help the Mohs surgeon create the best possible aesthetic outcome.
Surgical excision and Mohs surgery may cause some scarring; the most important factor of treating skin cancer is ensuring that the patient has healthy skin. However, Dr. Yadav offers a variety of skin procedures that can help reduce the appearance of scarring, including collagen induction therapy (also known as microneedling), energy-based treatments like laser skin resurfacing, and more.