The beauty of living in Southern California is the year-round opportunity for outdoor activities, especially in cities such as Newport Beach and Laguna Niguel. But skin cancer prevention is an important consideration while taking advantage of the beaches, parks and trails. These days, most people take steps to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays, but non-melanoma skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in the United States. At OC Dermatology, we emphasize prevention and early detection of potentially cancerous lesions. Once diagnosed, our treatment includes Mohs surgery, superficial radiotherapy, and photodynamic therapy.
Dr. Lorrie Klein and our team of dermatology professionals diagnose and treat skin cancer at our Orange County practice. Please request a consultation online, or call OC Dermatology at (949) 363-1788 to schedule an appointment.
A Nationally Recognized Leader
Dr. Lorrie Klein’s rare combination of technical expertise and aesthetic sensibility puts her at the forefront of dermatologists nationwide. Dr. Klein’s reputation for providing natural-looking results is why she’s the choice of women and men from throughout Southern California and beyond.
What to Look For
A dermatologist should examine any suspicious growths, spots, sores, or bumps that don’t heal for several weeks. We effectively treat a number of pre-cancerous lesions and different skin cancers at our Laguna Niguel dermatology center. Most non-melanoma skin cancers develop in exposed areas, such as the head, neck, and arms.
Types of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
Basal cell carcinomas The most common skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. Approximately 2.8 million cases are diagnosed annually and the vast majority of these are caused by excessive sun exposure. Basal cell carcinomas tend to appear as small, raised, pink or red, translucent areas that may bleed after a minor injury. People with fair complexions are more likely to develop this type of skin cancer.
Squamous cell carcinomas Less common than basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas may look like growing lumps, often with a rough, scaly, or crusted surface. They may also look like flat reddish patches in the skin that grow slowly. They may occur anywhere on the body, although areas exposed to the sun are the most typical sites.
Actinic keratosis Actinic keratoses are sometimes pre-cancerous and, like most basal cell and squamous carcinomas, are caused by too much sun exposure. It’s estimated that 58 million Americans have actinic keratoses, which are typically small, rough spots that may be either pink-red or flesh-colored. Some may become squamous cell carcinomas, although they may stay the same or go away on their own. They should be examined by a dermatologist.
Dysplastic Nevi (Atypical Moles) These are benign (non-cancerous) growths that indicate an increased risk of melanoma. These unusual moles should be looked at by a dermatologist and monitored through self-exams.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
Dr. Klein specializes in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. OC Dermatology offers a number of treatments for pre-cancerous and cancerous growths, and we can recommend the best course of action for your individual needs.
Superficial Radiotherapy (SRT) uses precise doses of x-ray to radiation treat skin cancer by delivering 100% of the energy at the skin’s surface. It is an effective method of targeting and treating skin cancer and is the leading non-surgical alternative for treating non-melanoma skin cancer. It’s an excellent choice for patients who are not good candidates for surgical excision.
How it Works: When the SRT beam hits a cell that is dividing, it damages the cell. Cancer cells are much less able than normal cells to repair themselves, causing the cancer cell to be destroyed and fall off. As the damaged cells die, healthy cells begin to replace them. Radiotherapy works by damaging cancer cells while causing as little damage as possible to normal cells.
After SRT, the area becomes red and may be sore for about 5 to 10 days. Sometimes a scab forms and the area may take a month or more to heal.
Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure that is especially effective for treating cancers of the face or hands where, for cosmetic reasons, it’s desirable to spare as much tissue as possible. Named for the physician who pioneered the procedure, Mohs surgery removes the visible tumor first. Successive layers of skin are removed and examined under a microscopic until no cancerous cells are detected.
Usually associated with acne treatment, photodynamic therapy using Levulan® with a special blue light effectively treats pre-cancerous skin lesions, such as actinic keratoses.
Skin Cancer Prevention
Most skin cancer is preventable. There are a number of steps you can take, no matter how old you are, to help decrease the risk of getting skin cancer.
- Avoid getting sunburns
- Seek shade
- Wear protective clothing
- Be extra cautious near sand, water, and snow
- Apply sunscreen generously, and often