Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Specialist
Dr. Howard Fein is a top-rated provider of skin cancer treatments and is recognized as a leading Mohs micrographic surgeon. At Palos Verdes Dermatology Associates in Palos Verdes, CA, patients benefit from customized treatment programs using the most advanced techniques and technology for superior outcomes and minimal tissue damage.

Skin Cancer Q & A

What types of skin cancer are there?

There are three types of skin cancer:

  • basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer that causes changes in the cells at the lowest layer of skin (the basal layer)
  • squamous cell carcinoma, which occurs primarily in sun-damaged skin, sometimes spreading to other areas if not promptly treated
  • melanoma, the rarest but most deadly skin cancer causing 1% to 5% of skin cancers in the U.S. but responsible for nearly all skin cancer-related deaths

Each type of cancer can cause different signs and symptoms and often require a different approach for optimal results.

How is skin cancer treated?

That depends on the type of cancer, its stage of growth and other factors. The most common types of treatment include:

  • tissue-sparing Mohs micrographic surgery
  • traditional surgical excision
  • cryosurgery, which uses cold temperatures to “burn off” the cancerous tissue
  • curettage, which uses a special scraping instrument to remove the lesion, followed by electrocautery to destroy any remaining cells

What is Mohs surgery?

Mohs micrographic surgery is considered the “gold standard” of skin cancer treatments, using special techniques designed to spare healthy tissue so healing and recovery are optimized and the risk of scarring is significantly decreased. During Mohs surgery, the visible lesion is removed and immediately evaluated under a microscope to determine if the edges or borders of the lesion are free of cancer cells. If cancer cells are detected along one or more borders, additional tissue is removed from those areas then re-examined. Once the borders are clear, the treatment area is sutured and bandaged. This approach helps ensure the entire cancer is excised while removing the least amount of healthy tissue.

What can I do to prevent skin cancer?

Having routine professional skin cancer evaluations is one of the best ways to detect subtle changes associated with skin cancer so treatment can be provided as early as possible. Skin cancer evaluations should be performed every year or more frequently for those with risk factors for skin cancer. It's also important to use sunscreen on a regular basis and to avoid unprotected sun exposure and tanning beds.

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