Specialized surgery takes deeper look at skin cancer - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Specialized surgery takes deeper look at skin cancer


Each year, thousands of Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer. And if you have skin cancer once, your chances of getting it again increase.

But there is a specialized surgery that is helping people beat the cancer.

Lynn Tede had what she thought was just a blemish, but it turned out to be skin cancer.

"It was scary, knowing it was on my face and by my eye," Tede said.

It was her third brush with skin cancer, something she never thought she'd have to deal with.

"When I was growing up, sunscreen wasn't a word I knew," she said.

As a Realtor, she spent many hours each day driving around in a car, and she said she wasn't aware that she should have sunscreen on even in the car.

So when it came to treating the skin cancer, she opted for something called Mohs surgery.

"Very carefully remove the tumor while evaluating 100 percent of the surgical margin on the day you remove it," said Dr. William Stebbins, director of cosmetic dermatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Stebbins says that's what makes this surgery unique. During other procedures, doctors remove the cancerous tumor and then send it off to a pathologist for screening.

Here, that analysis is done right away in a lab just down the hall.

This way, if doctors need to remove additional layers of skin to get all the cancerous tissues out, they can do so before the patient is stitched up.

"You can not only have a 99 percent cure rate, you can minimize the amount of tissue that is removed," Stebbins said.

And that's key in places like your face, like in the case with Tede.

Stebbins says there are things you can do now to avoid these types of surgeries down the road.

His best advice: wear sunscreen and reapply it every few hours, especially if you're in the water.

And when it comes to places on your body that are most at risk, Stebbins says the face, arms and legs are the most exposed during the summer.

"Areas that people don't think about are areas around the eyes, top of the ears, and in men with thinner hair, the top of scalp," Stebbins said.

Tede echoes his warning and has one of her own.

"If you see something suspicious, get to the doctor so they can take care of it sooner than later," she said.

As for Tede, she has healed up nicely and is now cancer free.

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