Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month: Skin Check-ups and Laser Technology Team Up in the Fight Against Skin Cancer

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More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell carcinoma skin cancers will be diagnosed in the United States this year and some of those diagnoses could be avoided if detected early. New York Dermatologist Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, M.D., uses Fraxel Laser technology as a treatment for precancerous cells as well as encourages patients to schedule regular checkups just in time for May’s Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.

After working with the Fraxel laser so extensively, it has proven effective against cells that could potentially turn cancerous if not treated, making it an important tool against skin cancer.

One in five Americans will develop a type of skin cancer at some point in life; annual indoor tanning increases that chance by 20 percent. There are several different types of skin cancer, each with its own unique characteristics. Skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and the most serious form, melanoma. Melanoma is both serious and difficult to treat, especially in later stages. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it is important to check for skin cancer at least once a year with full body check by a knowledgeable dermatologist. It is also recommended that sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher be worn as a first line of defense.

Precancerous cells, such as actinic keratosis are the first indicators of danger. It is a scaly lesion most commonly found on the face and back of the hands of those with fair skin, which can be treated using a laser technology called Fraxel Re:store Dual. The Fraxel Re:store Dual laser is a non-invasive resurfacing system used to treat wrinkles, loose skin, sun damage, and is FDA-approved to treat precancerous lesions before they become life threatening. The Fraxel laser treats the skin by fractionally treating microscopic sections of the skin at a time, while stimulating the skin’s natural repair system to replace damaged cells with healthier tissue. This leaves behind a newer, tighter and cancer-free layer of skin.

Fraxel has become an extremely useful preemptive measure in the fight against skin cancer, by catching and destroying precancerous cells before they worsen. Dr. Rokhsar was the first physician to introduce Fraxel Laser technology to the United States and medical community after working with a prototype for over a year, giving him unparalleled experience.

“The Fraxel Dual laser is successful in replacing precancerous cells with healthy ones,” Dr. Rokhsar says. “After working with the Fraxel laser so extensively, it has proven effective in treating cells that could potentially turn cancerous if not treated, making it an important tool against skin cancer.”

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) utilizes alpha lipoic acid (ALA), a substance that enhances the absorption of laser or blue light into the skin, thereby destroying precancerous cells, improving skin tone and erasing sun damage.There are other precancerous lesions that patients should also be aware of besides actinic keratosis. Dysplastic nevi syndrome is a marker for patients that may develop melanoma later on. Early detection and treatment through regular checkups for skin cancer with a board-certified dermatologist, is vital for the cure of skin cancer, and if caught early virtually all types of skin cancer are curable.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer in the United States, it also grows slowly and rarely metastasizes (spreads to other areas of the body). However, if left untreated, basal cell will continue to grow, invade and destroy the surrounding skin and tissues beneath the skin. The major cause of developing basal cell carcinoma is overexposure to ultraviolet light; from either the outdoors’ natural light of the sun or from indoor tanning beds.

While it is important for people to be able to recognize a basal cell carcinoma growth at home, it should still be examined and confirmed by a dermatologist because it is often mistaken for other skin conditions such as acne, cysts, eczema or psoriasis. It appears as a pink or pearly white lesion or sore that can easily bleed, crust over or heal poorly. They are characterized as dome or nodule shapes, flat growths, or scar-like lesions.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer in the United States. The most common cause of squamous cell carcinoma is also the overexposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds. It can develop anywhere along the body, although the most prevalently exposed areas, such as the head, neck, hands, shoulders, and lower legs, are the most common. Squamous cell carcinoma lesions appear as hard, superficial, dark red growths that become dome-shaped as they get larger and can sometimes look like dry skin patches.

The most infamously dangerous type of skin cancer is melanoma, which accounts for more than 9 to 12-thousand skin cancer deaths each year and can appear on any area of the body. In the United States, it is the 5th most common cancer in men, and the 7th most common cancer in women. Melanoma typically resembles a mole; however if the pigmentation of the area is not uniform or if the diameter is greater than 6 millimeters, it should be examined by a dermatologist. Surgery for melanoma can be effective only if the melanoma is caught early.

Treating basal and squamous cell carcinoma depend on many factors including the type, location and age of the growth. One method is cryotherapy, which involves killing the cancerous cells by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. However, it is most effectively treated by the MOHS Micrographic surgery procedure. The lesion is removed and examined under a microscope to ensure complete removal of the cancerous cells. Because the skin is removed in careful layers, the technique salvages as much healthy skin as possible. The MOHS Micrographic surgery is especially useful in areas of cosmetic concern, such as the face. Regular checkups should follow afterwards to guarantee minimalistic scarring and healthy healing process. Physicians who can perform MOHS surgery, such as Dr. Rokhsar, must be specially licensed with one additional year of training.

Dr. Cameron K. Rokhsar, M.D., is the leading authority in laser surgery and non-invasive techniques and has trained more physicians on the use of the Fraxel laser in the United States and internationally than any other physician. He is also a MOHS Micrographic trained surgeon with years of experience in the procedure. A graduate of Harvard and New York University, Dr. Rokhsar is a fellowship-trained dermatologist and laser surgeon and extensively published medical author and Professor of Dermatology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His offices are located in New York City and Garden City, Long Island.

For more information please contact: Samantha Olson (212) 285-1110.

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Cameron Rokhsar
NY Cosmetic Skin, & Laser Surgery Center
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