Doctor examining mole on patient's back

Spotting Local Skin Cancers

Did you know that local skin cancers are the most common form of human cancer?

Each year in the U.S., more than five million skin cancers are diagnosed. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma skin cancers typically develop in chronically sun-exposed areas. In contrast to melanoma, these cancers are unlikely to spread to other areas of the body. However, they can become locally destructive and are best treated as soon as they are discovered.

One in five Americans will develop a skin cancer during their lifetime. Signs of local skin cancers include areas that bleed or do not heal, red scaly areas that are growing in size, and skin growths that enlarge rapidly.

The good news is that there are multiple treatments for these local skin cancers. Small, superficial cancers can sometimes be treated with a chemotherapeutic cream. Others can be treated with a brief in-office procedure. Many will be removed surgically under local numbing medicine with stitches placed to heal the wound.

Mohs surgery is a specialized technique for removing these skin cancers from anatomically and cosmetically sensitive areas. It may be the preferred technique for removal of skin cancers on the face, head, neck, hands, feet and shins. If you suspect you may have a skin cancer, you should call your primary care provider or dermatologist right away to have the area examined.