What do you need to know
• Skin cancer is incredibly common, in fact it is the most common type of cancer in the US and worldwide.
• 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun
• 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
• Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your lifetime risk form melanoma. • When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%.
Who is at risk?
While anyone is at risk for skin cancer, the highest risk individuals are those with very fair skin, indoor tanning bed users, patients who have spent a significant amount of time in the sun, and those with a history of severe, blistering sunburns. Organ transplant recipients, individuals on medications that suppress the immune system, and persons with a history of radiation treatment also have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Common Types of Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC): The most common type of skin cancer, BCC is also usually the least dangerous. BCC usually grows slowly and rarely spreads in the body. However, if left untreated it can grow beneath the skin and into the underlying tissue and bone, destroying normal tissue as it expands.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC): This is the next most common kind of skin cancer. SCC does carry a risk of leaving the skin and spreading to distant tissue when it is more advanced. Because of this, SCC can become life threatening if left untreated. This risk is highest for immunosuppressed patients.
Malignant melanoma: This is the least common skin cancer, but is certainly the most dangerous, and the incidence of melanoma is increasing rapidly. When diagnosed early, melanoma is treatable and curable. If not treated quickly, melanoma can leave the skin and spread throughout the body, which can cause death.
Dr. Reich performs detailed skin exams and will biopsy lesions of concern. While many irregularities in the skin are benign, the expertise of a board-certified dermatologist can help to identify those lesions that may be cancer. Because early detection is highly important, seeking dermatologic care should be your next step after self examination.
If you have been diagnosed with a skin cancer and need help arranging or coordinating your treatment, please contact our clinic as soon as possible. Special priority is given to patients with a known or suspected diagnosis of skin cancer.
There are a number of methods of treating skin cancer. To optimize outcomes, treatment must be individualized to each patient, each skin cancer type and stage of growth, and the location on the body. Dr. Reich will work with you to determine a treatment that is appropriate for you.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery (MMS), Fellowship Training, and Board Certification
Mohs surgery is a specialized technique for removing non-melanoma skin cancers. Using this technique, the entire margin (both the peripheral and deep edges of tissue) is examined microscopically to verify that the entire skin cancer has been removed. This precise method reduces the risk of recurrence of the skin cancer to less than 1% for BCC and less than 2% for SCC. Mohs surgery is not appropriate for every skin cancer, but is the gold standard for aggressive tumors, immunosuppressed patients, and high-risk anatomic locations.
Dr. Reich is the only fellowship-trained and board-certified Mohs surgeon in Duluth and the Arrowhead region. After completing a Dermatology residency, she was selected for one of ~70 fellowship positions in the United States for sub-specialty training in Micrographic Surgery and Dermatologic Oncology, which she completed at the University of Minnesota. During this additional year of training, she performed Mohs surgery and reconstruction on over 1,000 patients. Dr. Reich was amongst the first dermatologists in the country to attain board certification in Micrographic Dermatologic Surgery. Choosing a board certified and fellowship-trained surgeon ensures the level of excellence you and your family members deserve. Visit the American College of Mohs Surgery for additional information about the Mohs College Difference: https://www.skincancermohssur- gery.org/about-the-acms/the-mohs-college-difference.