Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. In fact, approximately 1.2 million new skin cancers are expected each year.
Dermatologists are skin cancer specialists; they have been trained to recognize basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. Certain dermatologists can also help you if you have a pigmented spot that is changing or a new red bump that is bleeding. Surgeons in the Dermatology Department, however, can remove many skin cancers with conventional surgery. Some surgeries can be performed on an out-patient basis in the clinic, while others can be more intensive.
Working with plastic surgeons and surgical oncologists, the dermatologic surgeons also provide care for patients with malignant melanoma. Treatments available include psoralen ultraviolet A light (PUVA) therapy in the clinic, photophoresis in the Blood Bank, or total skin electron beam treatment in Radiation Oncology.
A research protocol is underway to compare treatment with photophoresis to interferon for selected patients.
The Dermatology Department is likewise active in promoting safe exposure to the sun as a means of preventing skin cancer. For some patients, sun damage can be reversed through dermabrasion, chemical peels or the applying of topical retinoids available by prescription, alphahydroxy acids and other natural acids to the skin.