Category: Procedures

Can My Seborrheic Keratosis Be Removed?

Because it’s commonly benign, seborrheic keratosis doesn’t usually require treatment. However, it may be removed for cosmetic reasons, diagnostic purposes, or if it causes discomfort.

Read on to learn more about seborrheic keratosis and the most popular methods used for removing it.

What is Seborrheic Keratosis?

Seborrheic keratosis is a common skin condition that is most prevalent in older adults. Sometimes resembling moles or warts, these non-cancerous growths may look like they’ve been “pasted on” the skin. The growths can vary in color from tan to dark brown. They most often appear on the back or chest, though they can appear on other parts of the body.

Seborrheic keratosis is generally harmless, but the growths can cause concern due to their appearance or if they become irritated.

Who Typically Gets Seborrheic Keratosis?

Seborrheic keratosis is commonly associated with aging, making it a frequent occurrence in middle-aged and older adults. However, it’s not exclusive to any specific age group.

Here are some key points to consider when it comes to the likelihood of developing seborrheic keratosis:

  • Age. Individuals over the age of 50 are more likely to develop these growths.
  • Genetics. There’s a hereditary component to seborrheic keratosis. If your family members have had these growths, your chances of developing them may be higher.
  • Skin type. People with lighter skin tend to be more prone to seborrheic keratosis, although it can affect individuals of all skin types.

What Causes Seborrheic Keratosis?

While the exact cause of seborrheic keratosis remains unclear, several factors are thought to contribute to its development. These include:

  • Genetic factors. A family history of seborrheic keratosis increases the likelihood of developing it.
  • Sun exposure. Prolonged exposure to the sun is believed to be a contributing factor, particularly in people with lighter skin.
  • The aging process. As our skin ages, it undergoes various changes. Seborrheic keratosis is considered part of this natural aging process.
  • Hormonal changes. Some research suggests that hormonal changes might influence the development of these growths.

It’s important to note that seborrheic keratosis is not caused by any skin damage, infections, or lifestyle factors like diet or hygiene. The growths are simply a common skin occurrence.

When Should I Be Concerned About Seborrheic Keratosis?

Seborrheic keratosis is generally benign. However, it’s always important to be vigilant about any changes in your skin.

Here are some signs that warrant a closer look and possibly a consultation with a healthcare professional:

  • Rapid changes in appearance. If a growth changes quickly in size, shape, or color, it’s advisable to get it checked out.
  • Multiplication and spread. A sudden increase in the number of growths or a rapid spread to new areas of the body can be a cause for concern.
  • Irritation and discomfort. While some itching or slight irritation might be normal, persistent discomfort, pain, or sensitivity in the area of the growth should be evaluated.
  • Bleeding or oozing. If a growth starts to bleed, seep, or ooze without any apparent cause, such as scratching or injury, it’s important to see a doctor.
  • Resemblance to other skin conditions. Seborrheic keratosis can sometimes mimic the appearance of warts, moles, or even skin cancer. Any growths that resemble these conditions—especially if they have irregular borders, uneven coloring, or an unusual texture—should be examined by a healthcare professional.

It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to skin changes. Regular self-examination and dermatological checkups are key practices in maintaining skin health and catching potential issues early.

Removing Seborrheic Keratosis

Because it’s typically benign, seborrheic keratosis doesn’t usually require removal unless it’s for cosmetic reasons, discomfort, or diagnostic purposes. Here are some common methods of removal:

  • Cryotherapy involves freezing the growth with liquid nitrogen, causing it to fall off within days or weeks. It’s a preferred choice when there’s no need for a biopsy. You may notice skin depigmentation at the treatment site after undergoing the procedure.
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage combines burning the growth with an electric current and scraping it away with a curette. (These techniques can also be used separately.) This method requires some wound care afterward.
  • When a biopsy is needed, shave excision is often used. The healthcare provider numbs the area and shaves off the growth, then sends the sample for lab analysis. This method also smooths the skin underneath.

Ask Franks Dermatology About Your Seborrheic Keratosis

While seborrheic keratosis is usually a benign and common skin condition, it’s important to stay proactive about your skin health. If you are concerned about seborrheic keratosis or another skin condition, schedule a consultation with the experts at Franks Dermatology by calling (501) 246-1042. We can provide you with options that fit your needs, whether that’s a cosmetic removal of a growth, an official diagnosis, or further testing such as a biopsy.

Are There Treatments for Skin Cancer Besides Surgery?

Surgical interventions have long dominated the treatment of skin cancer. However, there are also several non-surgical treatments for skin cancer that have developed as the medical world has learned more about this complex condition.

Topical Treatments for Skin Cancer

Also known as chemotherapy cream, topical treatments for skin cancer are applied directly to the lesion. One example of a topical treatment for skin cancer is 5-fluorouracil (5FU), which stops cancer cells from making and repairing DNA.

When to Consider Topical Treatments for Skin Cancer

These types of treatments are ideal for early-stage skin cancers, as well as precancerous lesions that are located superficially on the skin. As a result, these treatments have become an effective solution for superficial basal cell carcinomas and actinic keratoses.

Keep in mind that a topical treatment for your skin cancer may not be right for you if your lesion is large in area or goes deep beneath your skin.

What to Expect from Topical Treatments for Skin Cancer

Patients apply the chemotherapy cream to the lesion as prescribed. Redness, inflammation, and soreness—similar to a sunburn—are common reactions. The duration of the treatment varies, but patients typically notice changes within a few weeks.

Radiation Therapy for Skin Cancer

Radiation therapy damages the DNA within cancer cells by harnessing high-energy particles or waves, such as X-rays. Once this DNA is damaged, the cancer cells are unable to grow and divide.

When to Consider Radiation Therapy for Skin Cancer

Radiation therapy is often used when surgery isn’t an option due to the tumor’s location or health conditions that make surgical intervention risky. It is also used when cancer recurs after surgery.

What to Expect from Radiation Therapy for Skin Cancer

A patient is carefully positioned while the radiation machine—often a linear accelerator—is adjusted to target the cancer site. A custom-made mold or cast might be used to keep you still during the treatment. Although the procedure itself is painless, some patients describe warmth in the treated area, as well as a faint metallic taste in the mouth.

The number of sessions required will vary depending on the cancer type, size, and location. The treatment’s efficacy will be gauged over several sessions, often stretching over a few weeks.

Immunotherapy for Skin Cancer

Immunotherapy is the process of amplifying the body’s natural defense mechanisms against cancer cells. Topical immunotherapies like imiquimod stimulate the immune system to recognize and attack cancerous skin cells.

When to Consider Immunotherapy for Skin Cancer

Immunotherapy is ideal for early-stage skin cancer, especially when a patient would like to preserve maximum skin integrity and avoid surgical scars.

What to Expect from Immunotherapy for Skin Cancer

Patients apply imiquimod cream to the affected area. It may result in inflammation, itching, or even a mild burn as it stimulates the immune cells to target the cancer. The duration of treatment varies based on the cancer’s extent and the body’s response.

Cryotherapy for Skin Cancer

Cryotherapy uses the extreme cold that liquid nitrogen produces to destroy cancerous skin cells. The rapid freezing and slow thawing process work to eliminate the targeted cells.

When to Consider Cryotherapy for Skin Cancer

Cryotherapy works best for small, superficial skin lesions. It’s less invasive than surgery and leaves minimal scarring, making it a preferred choice for lesions on cosmetically sensitive areas.

What to Expect from Cryotherapy for Skin Cancer

Your healthcare professional will apply liquid nitrogen to the lesion using a spray device or a cotton-tipped applicator. As the skin begins to thaw, there is a sharp, cold feeling, as well as a possible stinging or burning sensation.

After the treatment, the frozen lesion forms a scab that falls off within a few weeks. The skin beneath heals and, over time, returns to its natural color, though sometimes a white mark may remain.

Contact Franks Dermatology to Find the Right Skin Cancer Treatment for You

Skin cancer has several complexities that require a comprehensive understanding for effective treatment. Combined with the specific nuances of each patient’s needs, preferences, and medical history, there is no one universally applicable treatment for skin cancer. Fortunately, the experts at Franks Dermatology have the knowledge and experience required to analyze each of these factors and guide you in understanding the risks, benefits, and potential outcomes of each treatment.

If you notice a suspicious lesion or worrying change in your skin, don’t hesitate to call Franks Dermatology at (501) 246-1042. Our team of dedicated experts will perform the appropriate biopsy, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and help you start down the path toward safe, effective healing.

When Does Skin Cancer Need Surgery?

Skin cancer has layers of complexity that can affect a dermatologist’s approach in terms of diagnosis and treatment. One of the most commonly asked questions about skin cancer treatment is whether or not a patient will require surgery. Although the answer ultimately requires a doctor’s consultation, here are some general guidelines that may indicate whether skin cancer may need surgery to remove.

Understanding Skin Cancer

Skin cancer begins when the DNA in our skin cells gets damaged, leading to mistakes or mutations in their genetic code. These cells may grow faster than they should and group together to form harmful growths or tumors.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer. In general, the more we expose our skin to these UV rays, the higher our chances of developing skin cancer. Your family’s genetics may also impact your susceptibility to skin cancer.

Types of Skin Cancer & Their Surgical Interventions

Skin cancer can take many forms. Each type of skin cancer has its own unique look, behavior, chances of spreading, and response to different forms of treatment.

Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma derive from the epidermal layer of the skin.

  • Basal cell carcinoma may require surgery when lesions present characteristics like a pearly appearance, raised borders with central ulceration, persistent bleeding, or non-healing sores.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma may require surgery if lesions show firmness, scaly or crusted surfaces, central ulcers, or rapid growth.

The surgical excision technique for each type of carcinoma involves removing the cancerous tissue along with a margin of healthy skin to ensure a thorough elimination of the cancer.

Melanoma

Melanoma is a more aggressive skin cancer that stems from pigment-producing cells. Surgery may be required when melanomas exhibit features like asymmetry, irregular borders, multiple colors, or a large diameter.

Similar to carcinoma, melanoma requires excision along with a margin of healthy skin. However, melanoma excisions often need to be wider to ensure the complete eradication of cancerous cells.

Contact Franks Dermatology About Surgery for Skin Cancer

The experts at Franks Dermatology provide comprehensive examinations and diagnostic tools to enable you to make informed decisions about your skin health. If the time comes to treat skin cancer, our team will discuss proposed interventions, potential outcomes, and recuperation timelines.

Early detection and intervention are essential for successful treatment of skin cancer. If you notice any suspicious changes in your skin, call Franks Dermatology at (501) 246-1042 right away to get started on a treatment plan that fits your preferences and medical needs.

 

Common Biopsy Procedures for Skin Cancer

Skin cancer affects millions of people globally, as well as countless loved ones and partners who accompany them on their journey. Because of the potentially significant consequences, it is critical that they be addressed swiftly and correctly.

To achieve that result, precise skin cancer detection and therapy rely primarily on biopsy procedures. Biopsies are performed by removing questionable skin tissue samples, which are then analyzed under a microscope to discover malignant cells. 

In the following sections, we will provide a thorough explanation of biopsies, their purpose, and the most common biopsy procedures used to diagnose skin cancer.

Understanding Biopsies: Unveiling the Secrets of Skin Cancer

Biopsies are critical diagnostic tools for a variety of medical disorders, most notably skin cancer. These methods let doctors determine whether aberrant alterations in skin cells are benign or malignant. (5) Pathologists can determine the particular type and stage of skin cancer by painstakingly scrutinizing biopsy samples, providing critical information for tailored treatment approaches. 

Types of Biopsy Procedures: Exploring the Realm of Skin Cancer Diagnosis

Few things are more critical than a biopsy for correct diagnosis and treatment outcome tracking. One size does not fit all. Your doctor will choose from a variety of biopsy procedures based on your specific situation. Let’s look at a few of the most common.

Punch Biopsy: A Precise and Targeted Approach

A punch biopsy is a popular method for identifying skin cancer. It entails using a circular tool, similar to a cookie cutter, to extract a small cylindrical sample from the afflicted area.
This minimally invasive treatment is often conducted under local anesthesia. (2)

The punch biopsy allows for an evaluation of an entire cross section of the skin, providing comprehensive details about the lesion. It is particularly beneficial in the diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

To ensure the patient’s comfort, the healthcare professional washes the region and delivers local anesthetic during a punch biopsy. The punch instrument, which comes in various sizes depending on the desired sample diameter, is then driven into the skin at a perpendicular angle, taking a sample of the questionable tissue. The device is gently rotated to form a cylindrical core, which is then carefully lifted and removed. Following the collection of the sample, the region may be bandaged or allowed to heal on its own. (2)

The punch biopsy sample is forwarded to a laboratory for analysis. Pathologists analyze the tissue under a microscope, looking for any aberrant cellular changes that could suggest the presence of cancer. The pathologist can determine the type of skin cancer and its features, such as the pace of cell development and infiltration into adjacent tissues.

Punch biopsies are indicated when there is a suspicion of non-melanoma skin malignancies such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. These skin tumors frequently have defined borders, making punch biopsies ideal for getting exact samples. They provide crucial information on the type and extent of the cancer, which aids in treatment planning. Additionally, punch biopsies are frequently painless for patients and are possible in an outpatient setting.

Benefits of a punch biopsy

One advantage of punch biopsies is that they produce a full-thickness sample, allowing pathologists to evaluate the deeper layers of the skin. This complete evaluation allows for a more precise determination of the characteristics of the malignancy and aids in selecting the most effective treatment plan. Furthermore, punch biopsies are straightforward and rapid procedures with little recuperation time. (3)

One disadvantage of punch biopsies is that they may not catch the full area of bigger lesions. Several punch biopsies may be required to collect representative samples from different places if the suspicious area is larger or irregularly shaped. In some circumstances, additional testing or biopsies, such as an excisional biopsy, may be required to fully assess the extent of the disease. (3)

Shave Biopsy: A Smooth Approach to Skin Cancer Diagnosis

Another frequent approach for identifying skin cancer is a shave biopsy. It entails removing the top layers of skin, including the questionable area, using a sharp blade. Local anesthetic is usually used for shave biopsies. This approach can detect superficial lesions like melanoma in situ or superficial basal cell cancer. (1)

To ensure patient comfort, the healthcare practitioner washes the region and delivers local anesthetic during a shave biopsy. The questionable tissue is then captured by carefully shaving off the superficial layers of skin using a scalpel or similar device.

To ensure that adequate tissue is retrieved for an accurate examination, the shave depth is managed. Sutures are usually not required, and the operation is usually rapid. 

When there is a suspicion of skin cancer in lesions that are mostly superficial, shave biopsies are advised. They are especially useful for detecting melanoma in situ, a type of skin cancer that only affects the skin’s outermost layer. Shave biopsies give important information regarding the depth and features of the lesion, which might help guide future treatment options.

Benefits of a shave biopsy 

Shave biopsies have the benefit of being generally rapid and simple procedures. These can be done as an outpatient procedure, and the recovery time is usually short. Shave biopsies also allow for the examination of wider areas, resulting in a more comprehensive representation of the questionable tissue. (1)

The healthcare practitioner carefully manages the depth of the shave during a shave biopsy to get an appropriate sample for analysis. Shave biopsies, which remove the superficial layers of the skin, can reveal aberrant cell development patterns, cellular atypia, and other skin cancer-related characteristics. This information is critical in choosing the best treatment strategy and ensuring the best possible patient care.

Furthermore, shave biopsies have the advantage of leaving little scarring. Because only the top layers of skin are removed, the resulting wound is frequently tiny and heals with little scarring. This is especially useful when the biopsy site is in a cosmetically sensitive area, such as the face or neck.

Going Deeper for a Comprehensive Diagnosis

Excisional biopsy is a surgical method that involves removing the worrisome area completely, including a margin of healthy tissue. Depending on the size and location of the lesion, this treatment is often performed under local anesthetic or with sedation. Excisional biopsies are frequently performed on larger or suspected malignant skin lesions. (4)

The healthcare professional carefully plans the incision for an excisional biopsy to include the entire questionable area as well as a small margin of normal tissue. Incision size is going to depend on a lesion’s location and particular characteristics. The excised tissue is then removed, and the wound is sutured up. The removed sample is forwarded to a laboratory for further analysis.

Benefits of an Excisional Biopsy 

Excisional biopsies provide several advantages. Firstly, they offer a complete evaluation of the lesion, allowing pathologists to assess the extent of the cancer. This information is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment approach, such as whether additional surgery or other treatments are necessary. Excisional biopsies can also be used as an intervention. If the area is small enough, you might be able to remove the affected tissue at the time of the biopsy, eliminating any additional need for treatment. (5)

One limitation of excisional biopsies is that they may leave a larger scar compared to other biopsy techniques. The size of the incision required to remove the entire lesion often results in a larger wound, which can lead to more prominent scarring. However, it is important to balance aesthetic concerns with the need for accurate diagnosis and treatment. (5)

Additionally, excisional biopsies require a longer recovery time compared to less invasive biopsy procedures. In order to promote proper healing and reduce the risk of complications, patients may need to adhere to specific wound care instructions.

Despite these limitations, excisional biopsies provide valuable information for the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. They allow for a comprehensive evaluation of the lesion and are particularly suitable for larger or suspected malignant skin lesions. 

The decision to perform an excisional biopsy is made based on the characteristics of the lesion, its location, and the overall clinical context, ensuring that the most appropriate diagnostic approach is taken for each individual case.

Final Thoughts: Empowering Patients in the Fight against Skin Cancer

In conclusion, biopsies play a crucial role in accurately diagnosing skin cancer. By understanding the various biopsy procedures available, individuals can familiarize themselves with the process, potential benefits, and limitations of each technique. 

This knowledge empowers patients to actively engage in discussions with healthcare professionals, facilitating personalized treatment plans and improved outcomes. If you notice any suspicious skin lesions, remember to seek medical attention promptly, as early detection and intervention are key in the battle against skin cancer.

References:

  1. 1. Shave biopsy. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic.
    https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/skin-biopsy/multimedia/shave-biopsy/img-2000731
  2. 2. NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. (n.d.). National Cancer Institute.
    https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms
  3. Nischal, U., Nischal Kc, & Khopkar, U. (2008). Techniques of skin biopsy and practical considerations. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, 1(2), 107–111.
    https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-2077.44174
  4. NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. (n.d.). National Cancer Institute.
    https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms
  5. 5. Biopsy | Medical Diagnosis & Procedure. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/biopsy