Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most common type of skin cancer. Nonmelanoma skin cancer affects more than 3 million Americans every year, and the rate at which people are being diagnosed is skyrocketing. For example, over the last four decades, the incidence of basal cell carcinoma has increased by 145 percent, and the overall incidence of squamous cell carcinoma has increased by 263 percent.
Obviously some of these increases are due to more people performing self checks and having potentially dangerous spots examined by a doctor, but poor sun and tanning habits have also contributed to the uptick. In an effort to help reduce the number of nonmelanoma skin cancer growths and provide better treatment, the American Academy of Dermatology recently released some new guidelines for managing this type of skin cancer. Today, we take a close look at their new recommendations.
New Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer Treatment Guidelines
According to the AAD these guidelines will help doctors provide the best possible care for patients with nonmelanoma skin cancer. They also warn that left untreated, nonmelanoma skin cancers can grow and spread, potentially leading to disfigurement or death.
The new guidelines state:
- Surgical treatment in the form of excision, Mohs surgery or curettage and electrodessication is the most effective option for most cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer.
- However, doctors may consider other treatments like cryotherapy, radiation or topical therapy for patients who fit certain characteristics.
- Recommendations against laser therapy or electronic brachytherapy, simply because there is not enough evidence to suggest they have the potential for better outcomes than some other better-researched techniques.
- Patients should receive an exam to check for new skin cancers at least once per year, and take steps to prevent future skin cancers by using sunscreen and avoiding direct sunlight for hours at a time.
- Patients should perform a regular self-exam to look for the development of new skin cancers, as most nonmelanoma skin cancers are highly treatable when detected early.
The last two points may be key, because those two bullets can be controlled by the patient. It only takes a minute or two to perform a self check, so look around once a month for any new moles that are growing or changing colors. If you notice anything suspicious, set up a consultation with a dermatologist or a skin cancer surgeon like Dr. Koeplin. For more information, or to set up an appointment at Dr. Koeplin’s office, give him a call at (651) 224-1347.