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Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays and a history of childhood sunburns are the main causes of most skin cancers. Even people who do their best to stay covered and use sunblock to protect themselves can be at risk.

Dr. Rebecca Lu is a highly skilled dermatologist in Warren, New Jersey, with years of experience in detecting and successfully treating skin cancer. Skin cancer that is detected and treated early is very curable. Dr. Lu is a specialist in Mohs surgery, considered the most effective procedure to treat skin cancer available today.

Types of Skin Cancer

There are many types of skin cancers, classified as melanomas or non-melanomas. Melanomas begin in the melanocytes, the cells in skin that produce color. Melanoma can spread quickly to other parts of the body. It is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Non-melanomas originate in skin cells other than melanocytes. Non-melanomas are less aggressive and rarely spread.

We diagnose and treat all types of skin cancer including:

Skin Cancer Screenings

We perform thorough, total-body skin cancer screenings at Elite SkinMD. From the top of your scalp, to the soles of your feet, Dr. Lu will carefully examine every inch of your skin, documenting every irregularity. 

For each mole or skin growth that the doctor finds to be of concern, she uses a dermatoscope to magnify the area and analyze it. Dermatoscopes help the doctor identify abnormal growths much earlier than is possible using unassisted visual examinations or less powerful magnification. Any questionable mole or growth that could be cancerous will be biopsied.

Dr. Lu will recommend when you should return for another exam, when she can compare any skin irregularities to those documented and mapped from your previous exam. Change in size or appearance of moles or other growths is one indication of skin cancer. 

Between screenings, you should look for changes in the shape, texture, size, or color of a mole or new skin growth. Skin cancer may look like a sore that does not heal. Cancerous moles or skin areas may also develop pain, swelling, itching, and bleeding.

Skin Cancer Prevention

There are risk factors that you can and cannot control for skin cancer. You should try to reduce the risk factors that you can control by performing a full body skin and mole inspection monthly. It may be helpful to use a mirror or have someone else look at areas of your skin that are difficult for you to see. Promptly report any suspicious moles or areas of skin to your doctor.

Download this infographic from the American Academy of Dermatology to learn how to spot skin cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends a yearly skin inspection by a qualified professional every year after the age of 40, and every three years for people ages 20-40. If you experience skin cancer, Dr. Lu may recommend more frequent skin inspections. You should make and attend all of your appointments.

You may be able to prevent skin cancer by limiting the amount of time that you are exposed to the sun. Anyone who is exposed to the sun should wear a sunblock that blocks both UVA and UVB sunrays. 

The American Academy of Dermatology and Dr. Rebecca Lu recommend a sunblock that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. An SPF of 30 provides protection from burning for 300 minutes and blocks 97% of UV rays. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 1 ½ hours or so depending on your activity level.

A sunscreen is a different product. Sunscreens allow you to spend a longer amount of time in the sun without burning than you could if you were not wearing sunscreen. Sunscreens may reduce your risk of getting skin cancer, but it is not a guarantee. If you are in the sun for a long time – even with sunscreen – you are at risk for developing skin cancer.

It is important to discard old sunblock and sunscreen. Their effectiveness is reduced over time. You should apply sunblock and sunscreen even in the winter. Remember to apply it to all of your skin that is exposed, including your hands, ears, lips, lower legs, the backs of your knees, and the tops of your feet.

It is beneficial to avoid being in the sun between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s rays are the strongest. A good way to remember this is that if your shadow is shorter than you are tall, it is not a good time to be out in the sun. You can still be outside, but seek shade.

If you must spend time in the sun, it is smart to wear hats with a broad rim and tightly woven fabrics that are especially made to block the sun. Some clothing is rated for its SPF factor. Your doctor is happy to refer you to such clothing suppliers. Wear sunglasses that block UVA and UVB sunrays. Wrap-around styled sunglasses protect your eyes and your eye area. Sun-related cancers can occur on the iris or inside of the eye. Wear sunglasses and make sure that your eye doctor checks for cancer at each of your eye exams.

You should avoid sun tanning outside and sun tanning lamps or booths. Tanning beds are now considered to be in the highest cancer risk category, and they are rated a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Artificial suntan lights give off harmful UV rays and can cause sunburns. An alternative is to use self-tanning products or spray-on coloring cosmetics.

You should stop smoking and avoid cancer-causing chemicals. If your job requires exposure to cancer-causing agents, follow all of the safety instructions associated with the chemical’s use. Wear protective masks and gear as instructed.

Teach your children about protecting their skin in the sun. This is important because many skin cancers result from sunburns that occur before age 18. Make sure that your children learn to apply and reapply sunblock and sunscreen when they are playing outdoors.

Skin Repair Program – Turn Back the Clock

Although the sun can cause damage to your skin that is quite severe, thanks to new advances in medical technology it is now possible to reverse some of this sun damage and improve the look and feel of your skin. In addition to a more youthful appearance, these treatments can reduce the risk of future skin cancer and help you avoid surgery.

“Field therapy” treatments are offered for patients with extreme sun damage and those who continuously develop new skin cancers. Elite SkinMD offers topical creams, photodynamic therapy, and Fraxel laser treatments to treat large areas of affected skin. In these cases, the cream or light targets precancerous cells in the skin and allows new, undamaged skin to heal in its place.

Mohs Surgery

Mohs micrographic surgery is the single most effective treatment for the most common forms of skin cancer, and it is typically performed in our office under local anesthesia. Cure rates for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma approach 98-99%, which is higher than any other form of treatment used in the past, such as “scrape and burn” electrocautery and standard excision.

As a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon, Dr. Rebecca Lu has performed more than 5,000 procedures and is widely considered an expert in Mohs surgery in Warren, NJ. If you have skin cancer, you can trust that you are in good hands with Dr. Lu.

While all surgeries leave scars, and scar size depends on the size and depth of the cancer, scarring from Mohs surgery is minimized by the precise nature of the procedure, and Dr. Lu is especially known for performing surgeries that leave a good cosmetic result. 

Dr. Lu can further improve the appearance of scars with laser therapy after the surgical site has healed. We also offer the first and only FDA-approved quick-drying silicone gel for scarring to further improve post-surgical scar management.

The following outlines Mohs surgery for skin cancer, step by step from the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS):

Step 1

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The roots of a skin cancer may extend beyond the visible portion of the tumor. If these roots are not removed, the cancer will recur. A surgery starts with the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS) specialist examining the visible lesion and planning what tissue to remove. The patient then receives local anesthesia, and the Mohs surgery begins.

Step 2

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The surgeon removes the visible portion of the tumor using careful surgical techniques.

Step 3

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Next, the surgeon removes a deeper layer of skin and divides it into sections. With the help of technicians, the surgeon then color-codes each of these sections with dyes and makes reference marks on the skin to show the source of the sections. A map of the surgical site is then drawn to track exactly where each small portion of tissue originated.

Step 4

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In a laboratory, the surgeon uses a microscope to examine the undersurface and edges of each section of tissue in search of evidence of remaining cancer.

Step 5

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If the surgeon finds cancer cells under the microscope, he or she marks their location on the "map" and returns to the patient to remove another deeper layer of skin — but only from precisely where the cancer cells originated. This method ensures that the Mohs surgery results in the smallest scar possible.

Step 6

The removal process stops when there is no longer any evidence of cancer in the surgical site. Because Mohs surgery removes only tissue containing cancer, it ensures that the maximum amount of healthy tissue is kept intact.

At this point, the surgeon discusses reconstruction options, should they be required, and then post-operative care. Mohs surgery recovery tends to be easily manageable because of the use of local anesthesia and the careful surgical techniques.

Skin Cancer Screening and Mohs Surgery in Warren, NJ

Dr. Rebecca Lu specializes in skin cancer detection and treatment in Warren, New Jersey. She will identify and biopsy any suspicious growths or moles, and then inform you of the results and your options for treatment, if any is needed. With years of experience and credentials you can trust, Dr. Lu is one of the best skin cancer doctors and Mohs surgeons in Warren and surrounding areas.

For a full body skin exam, call Elite SkinMD today at (908) 787-8088 or request an appointment online.