Debra Weissman MD
40 Cross Street
Norwalk, CT 06851
203-847-1500

Types of Skin Cancers

1. Basal cell carcinoma - the most common and least severe type
2. Squamous cell carcinoma - less common than basal cell, but can be more severe
3. Malignant melanoma - the most severe type of skin cancer

Detecting Skin Cancers
For all types of skin cancer, the critical factor in getting high cure rates and good cosmetic results is early detection. A small skin cancer is almost always easier to treat than a larger, more advanced one.

Early detection begins with you. Check your skin on a regular basis for any signs of new growths or changes in existing ones. In particular, look for changes in size, color, or border of existing moles. If you feel that changes have occurred, come in for an evaluation. Sometimes we can tell that a mole is OK just by looking at it. At other times, a skin biopsy - a simple and quick procedure - is indicated. But don't delay; remember that early diagnosis is the key to excellent results.

Another useful tool for early detection of skin cancers is a total skin examination by a dermatology professional. All areas of your skin are examined for any evidence of abnormal moles or growths. Frequently we can reassure you that all is well. If slightly abnormal looking moles are noted, they might simply be documented for comparison at a later date; or biopsies can be done if needed. How often an individual should have a total skin exam depends on his/her age, skin type, number and size of moles, presence of "pre-cancerous"growths, and whether the person has had previous skin cancers.

Treatment
Treatments for skin cancer vary greatly and depend on the type of cancer, as well as its size and location. Frequently there are several options that need to be discussed in detail before any decisions are made. Malignant melanoma almost always requires fairly extensive surgery, but for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, there may be several options. It is important to individualize treatment based on the nature of the skin cancer and the wishes of each patient. We have at our disposal a wide variety of the most up-to-date treatment methods to offer to our patients with skin cancer and are always happy to discuss the pros and cons of various options.