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Skin Cancer: Q&A with Dr. Nicholas Cahoj

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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports there were nearly 4 million skin cancer tumor removal procedures last year.  Here’s more information about skin cancer awareness and treatment.

Nicholas Cahoj, MD, a family medicine physician at Ascension Via Christi Primary Care in Manhattan, provide some information about skin cancer, what to look for, and treatment options.

What are the types of skin cancer?

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer. It grows very slowly and almost never metastasizes. According to the American Cancer Society treatment depend on factors such as the tumor size, location, a person’s age and general health.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer. Most cases are easily treated; however, SCC is more likely than BCC to be invasive and metastatic. Treatment is to remove the tumor.
  • Melanoma is less common than non-melanoma skin cancers, but it is also more dangerous. The CDC reports the estimated five-year survival rate for patients whose melanoma is detected early is about 99 percent in the U.S. The survival rate falls to 63 percent when the disease reaches the lymph nodes and 20 percent when the disease metastasizes to distant organs.

How can someone spot skin cancer?

The earlier you find cancer, the higher the likelihood of successful treatment.

  • A – Asymmetry – One half of the mole/skin spot is unlike the other half.
  • B – Border – An irregular, scalloped or poorly defined border.
  • C – Color – An uneven colored mole/spot with shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes red, white, or blue.
  • D – Diameter - The mole/spot is larger than 6mm in diameter, about the size of pea.
  • E – Evolving – One that changes size, shape, color, or looks different than the rest.

What is the treatment for skin cancer?
Most skin cancers are removed surgically, by a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist. If the cancer is small, the procedure can be done quickly and easily.

What is the most effective technique for treating most skin cancer?
Mohs micrographic surgery is considered the most effective technique for treating many basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), the two most common types of skin cancer. The Mohs procedure is done by a surgeon with special training. First, the surgeon removes a very thin layer of the skin (including the tumor) and then checks the removed sample under a microscope. If cancer cells are seen, another layer is removed and examined.

If you have questions about skin cancer, talk with your physician. If you do not have a physician, contact one of our clinics:

About Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy is the Senior Marketing Specialist for Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan, Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg, Ascension Via Christi in Fort Scott and Wamego Health Center. She is a proud wife and mom and loves cooking, camping and spending time outdoors, her dogs and reading.