If you have recently found out that you have a skin cancer lesion on your face, you are likely wondering what comes next now that you have a diagnosis. While skin cancer can be a serious issue and should be dealt with as soon as possible, there is no need to panic. Learn more about what the process is when you have a skin cancer lesion on your face, then you can be prepared for what is to come.
Removal of the Lesion
In the majority of cases of skin cancer—assuming that the cancer has not spread beyond the skin—the first step in dealing with the situation is to remove the lesion. The way in which the lesion is removed will depend on how large the lesion is as well as how deeply the cancer has penetrated the layers of the skin.
Some facial skin cancer lesions can be treated with topical chemotherapy. The topical chemotherapy comes in the form of a skin cream that you can apply to the lesion daily. However, the most common way to deal with a skin cancer lesion is through surgery.
Doctors generally will try to use the least invasive surgical option possible to remove skin cancer lesions. Because there is often a concern regarding scarring and disfigurement when the lesion is on the face, the Mohs skin cancer surgical procedure is the most utilized. This procedure occurs in stages. The doctor will remove the lesion layer by layer until no more cancer cells are detected in the remaining tissue.
Further Treatment as Necessary
If the skin cancer has spread beyond what can safely be removed surgically, further treatment will be necessary. This can include chemotherapy (topical or systemic) or radiation therapy. Immunotherapy and photodynamic therapy are also options. Immunotherapy utilizes drugs to help get the immune system to fight the cancer. Photodynamic therapy combines the use of medications and the use of specially formulated laser lights to activate the drugs after they have built up in the cancer cells.
Facial Reconstructive Surgery
When your skin cancer lesions are removed, you may have significant tissue loss on your face. However, there are options available to you to help you remedy this problem and reduce or prevent scarring.
Facial reconstructive surgery comes in many forms. Skin grafts are one option for facial skin cancer. The doctor will remove an area of skin from a part of your body that is not often seen, like the thigh, and will carefully place those skin cells onto the area where the skin cancer lesion was. This skin will then attach to the face and grow, covering the area of missing tissue.
Other options include flap procedures (where nearby tissue is moved to cover the lesion), cartilage grafting, and tissue expansion. All of these options can help to cover the skin cancer lesion and help the skin and tissue to grow over the surgical site.
Now that you know some of the facts, you can be sure you know what to expect as you work with your doctors to treat your skin cancer.