Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Therapy

Here at Ahwatukee Skin & Laser, we know that providing the most up-to-date and minimally invasive procedures is key to meeting your expectations and getting your skin cancer free.  We treat all forms of skin cancer and pride ourselves on having knowledgeable interactions to assist you in making comfortable and confident decisions about your treatment. All of our highly trained providers including MD’s, PA’s, NPs, RN’s and office staff take special care and concern to ensure that you understand the diagnosis and answer all of your questions completely and securely.

The skin cancer treatment choice depends on the type (Basal Cell Carcinoma-BCC, Squamous Cell Carcinoma-SCC and/or Malignant Melanoma-MM), stage (how deep), size and location of the tumor, whether or not the cancer has spread (metastasized), and your overall health and well being.  Skin cancer treatment options typically include surgery (excision), Mohs micrographic procedure, immunotherapy (mostly topical), electrodessication and curettage, cryotherapy or “freezing”, and/or topical and or IV chemotherapy.

Skin Cancer Treatment Options

Surgical Excision – This is most common form of skin cancer treatment for BCC, SCC and MM if not found on the head, neck or highly vascular blood filled area. A football shaped piece of tissue is removed and then closed using sutures and or stitches. The pathology is then sent to the lab to ensure that all the cancer has been removed and that the margins are clear. This type of treatment is NOT utilized where cosmetic concerns are of the utmost importance.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery – This is performed in our office by Dr. Duane Whitaker. Mohs is a precise surgical technique for removing several types of skin cancers. During Mohs surgery, layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. This allows for complete preservation of sensitive skin, nerves and provides the best cosmetic outcome while still ensuring you are cancer free. For this procedure, it is tedious however life saving. Mohs is best used for BCC and SCC of the head, neck or high blood flow areas. Mohs will provide the best cosmetic result while ensuring you are cancer free when you walk out our doors.

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Immunotherapy – This is usually used for superficial skin cancers that are small in size. Immunotherapy is currently FDA-approved for only basal cell skin cancer (BCC) treatment and it can be successfully utilized depending on your overall health and well-being. The most common of immunotherapy is the drug imiquimod (aka Aldara® and/or Zylclara®). Sarah Neumann, our PA, took part in a pivotal clinical research trial to bring this drug to market and get FDA approval for it. This medication works topically (applied to the skin) by recruiting your own bodies defense mechanisms to seek out and destroy precancerous and cancerous cells, thus avoiding surgery in most cases. The newest topical therapy on the market is Picato®; however, it is only FDA cleared to treat precancerous lesions or Actinic Keratosis (AK).

Electrodessication and Curettage (ED&C)- This procedure is useful for BCC and SCC not in a cosmetically sensitive area, i.e. thighs, arms, legs and the back. It removes the cancerous cells by scraping and burning and leaves a round white scar. It is a more convenient and less invasive procedure.

Cryotherapy– Liquid Nitrogen is the typical freezing you see in dermatology offices. It creates a thermal injury to the atypical skin cancer cells and can successfully clear superficial and/or thin, small BCC and SCC. This therapy is non-invasive, quick and cost effective.

Chemotherapy– Topical Chemotherapy (5 FU, Carac®, Efudex®, Flouroplex®) can be used to treat very small superficial lesions of BCC and SCC and or prior to surgical intervention to reduce tumor load and or size. These prescription medications can be used once to twice daily for 14-21 days.

Baseball, Apple Pie and…Carcinoma?! – Sarah Neumann on AZTV discussing skin cancer with Pat McMahon on Arizona Daily Mix