Even as awareness of skin cancer grows, the number of cases increases. Cases of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) increased by 145% between the approximately 10-year periods of 1976-1984 and 2000-10. Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer, increased by 95% from 2000 to 2013.
Each day, approximately 10,000 women, men, and (sometimes) children in the United States are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer, including:
But, unlike most other types of cancer, skin cancer is usually curable. A highly specialized procedure called Mohs micrographic surgery completely removes the skin cancer lesion as well as stray cancer cells to keep you safe and your skin cancer-free.
At Central Utah Dermatology in Richfield, Utah, our medical dermatology experts recommend annual skin cancer screenings as well as monthly self-exams to detect troublesome changes or lesions. If, however, you do have skin cancer, our surgeons may be able to perform Mohs surgery to remove it completely.
Why should you detect skin cancer as soon as possible?
The stakes couldn’t be higher. When it comes to many skin cancers, the stakes are literally life and death. More than two people in the U.S. die from skin cancer every single hour, 24 hours per day.
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Almost 8,000 people in the U.S. are projected to die from melanoma in 2023. However, even nonmelanoma cancers kill more than 5,000 people around the globe every year.
Even though the majority of skin cancers are caused by DNA damage to skin cells by the sun’s ultraviolet A and B rays, sunlight isn’t the only cause. So, even if you have darker or very dark skin, you could still develop skin cancer.
Skin cancers, especially in darker skins, can develop in areas that rarely if ever see the sun. That includes the webs between your toes, the soles of your feet, and the palms of your hands. And, if you’ve ever been sunburned — no matter your skin tone — your risk for skin cancer increases.
Mohs surgery is a specialized procedure that removes a very thin slice of a skin cancer lesion, layer by layer. Your surgeon examines each slice under a microscope with special stains that help them detect cancer cells.
They continue to slice through the layers of lesion and skin until they reach skin that hasn’t a single cancer cell in it. Once your surgeon reaches a cancer-free layer, the surgery is over.
Depending on how large or small your lesion was, you may not need stitches at all. Antibiotic cream and a bandage keep your operative site clean and infection-free while you heal.
Mohs surgery completely removes and actually cures 99% of newly diagnosed skin cancer lesions. Even recurrent cancers have a good prognosis: Mohs has a 94% cure rate for skin cancers that have been removed by other means previously.
When melanoma is detected early, your estimated five-year survival rate is more than 99%. However, the survival rate falls to 71% if the cancer reaches your lymph nodes. It falls again, way down to 32% when the disease metastasizes (i.e., travels to other organs).