In Texas there is no shortage of sunny days. And, while that’s good for our vitamin D levels (sunshine provides the human body with vitamin D), it’s no bueno for our skin.
Skin cancer begins in the skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis. This thin layer provides a protective cover of skin cells that your body continually sheds. The epidermis is made up of basically three types of cells: squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes. Not surprisingly, the three types of skin cancer are named for each of these cell types.
How are skin cells damaged?
The damage that triggers skin cancer in human cells is mainly inflicted by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation of the sun. Sun damage can alter the genetic material in skin cells, causing mutations. Basic cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma have been linked to chronic sun exposure, typically in fair-skinned people who spend lots of time outdoors. Melanoma isn’t necessarily a result of time spent in the sun, but of the degree of sunburns a person experienced. Just one blistering sunburn during childhood appears to double a person’s risk for developing melanoma later in life.
Why are fair-skinned people more susceptible?
The reason redheads, blue-eyed blonds, and others with fair skin tones are more susceptible to skin cancer is directly related to that light skin tone. Melanin is the skin’s protection from the sun. People with darker skin have more melanin; those with lighter skin have less. Melanin protects the skin when it encounters UV rays by darkening the skin, what we think of as “tanning.”
Treating your skin cancer
Every case of skin cancer is unique to the patient. At Creative Image Laser Solutions, we tailor our treatment to your particular skin cancer. Our treatments are generally for squamous and basal cell carcinomas, as melanoma can involve more invasive surgery.
Here are the methods we use:
- Cryotherapy — Dr. Butka destroys actinic keratoses (early growths that are cancer precursors) and some small early skin cancers by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. The frozen cells die and peel away.
- Excisional surgery — Dr. Butka cuts out the cancerous tissue, along with healthy tissue surrounding it.
- Curettage, electrodessiccation — First, the majority of the growth above the surface of the skin is removed. Then Dr. Butka takes a curet (a circular blade) and scrapes away more cells. Next, he uses an electric needle to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
- Photodynamic therapy — This treatment destroys skin cancer cells with a combination of laser light and medications that make those cancer cells sensitive to light.
If you have any growths on your body that have irregular borders or if the growth has changed color, you need to come in and have Dr. Butka check it out. Call us at 325-641-1927 today.