You might wonder, how can a dermatologist save a life – right?! The answer is skin cancers – we find them, we treat them, and, working with our patients, we can make the difference between life and… not. So what should you be looking for? There are a few easy guidelines to help you. Any sore that does not heal ulcerates or starts to grow can be suspected skin cancer. Scaly rough spots can be actinic keratosis (pre-cancers) and also need to be evaluated. Additionally, moles that are asymmetric in their color, shape, borders or are growing fast can be worrisome. Look at your skin closely – be proactive! Make sure you know the ABCDE of spotting dangerous skin changes.
Using a special instrument, the doctor scrapes the cancerous tissue from the skin. An electric needle is then used to burn a safety margin of normal skin around the tumor and at the base of the area that has been scraped. This technique requires local anesthetic and generally is repeated several times to ensure complete removal of the tumor.