Ray Sheppard Jr., MD
General Surgery and Advanced Robotic Surgery located in Huntsville, AL & Madison, AL
Each year in the United States, more than 3.3 million people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer, making it the most common cancer diagnosis. Thankfully, there’s much that can be done about a skin cancer diagnosis, starting with removal, which is where Ray Sheppard, MD General Surgery comes in. As a general surgeon, Dr. Sheppard has extensive experience helping his patients in Madison and Huntsville, Alabama, clear their skin of this potentially dangerous disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, call or use the online scheduling tool to learn more.
Skin Cancer Q & A
What are the main types of skin cancer?
There are several types of skin cancer, but the three most common forms of the disease are:
Basal cell carcinoma
Approximately 8 out of 10 skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas, so named because the disease affects the cells in the lower part of your epidermis, called the basal cell layer. This type of cancer typically develops in areas of your skin that are most exposed to the sun, such as your head or neck. Basal cell carcinoma isn’t an aggressive form of cancer and rarely spreads to other parts of your body, especially if you stay one step ahead of the cancer through the removal of any lesions.
Squamous cell carcinoma
As your basal cells make their way toward the surface of your skin, they flatten and become squamous cells. Once at the surface, they shed out and are replaced by new cells coming up. Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for 2 out of 10 skin cancers, and they usually develop on areas of skin that have had the most sun exposure, such as your head and hands.
There are a little more than 90,000 new cases of melanoma each year, which is a type of skin cancer that develops in the cells that produce your pigment, which are called melanocytes.
There are other, rarer forms of skin cancer, but these three types represent the lion’s share of diagnoses (more than 99%).
What are the signs of skin cancer?
Most skin cancers show signs on the surface of your skin, such as:
- Actinic keratosis — a small scaly patch of skin (usually less than 1/4-inch)
- Small “pearly” bumps on your skin
- Flat, scar-like areas
- Red, itchy patches of skin
- Moles that change
- Open sores that don’t heal
Skin cancer presents itself in many ways, which means you should be on the lookout for any changes in your skin or abnormal growths.
How is skin cancer treated?
If you’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, the most common treatment is the removal of the cancerous growth, which Dr. Sheppard does through surgical excision.
When Dr. Sheppard removes your lesion, he makes every effort to fully eradicate the cancer by removing a margin around the lesion where cancer cells may still be present.
Surgical excision of skin cancer is often your best opportunity for taking skin cancer out of your health equation. If you’d like to learn more, call Ray Sheppard, MD, or use the online scheduling tool to request a consultation.