Skin Care

Ascension Seton Skin Cancer Care

At Ascension Seton, our skin cancer care teams in Austin, Texas, deliver personalized care to our patients.

Skin Cancer Treatment in Austin

The Ascension Seton dermatologic surgery and cutaneous oncology program accept referrals for patients with all forms of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, as well as patients with suspected skin cancers who need prompt diagnostic testing. The skincare team are very experienced and provide surgical and non-surgical care. Other related procedures include skin cancer excision, and reconstruction, mole and cyst removal, and nail avulsion. Our personalized cancer care plan helps to prevent the recurrence of melanoma and other high-risk skin cancers. With a team approach, our goal is to provide the most advanced and least invasive procedures possible.

Mohs Micrographic Surgery

Mohs micrographic surgery is the most advanced and precise process for surgical removal of many types of skin cancer. The Dermatologic Surgery Center is located in the Clinical Education Center in downtown Austin. Our skincare team focuses on delivering compassionate, personalized care that is right for you.

The Difference: What to Expect

Our dedicated, compassionate care team helps improve your health and comfort. We take the time to answers all your questions, so you understand the care plan. We coordinate your appointments, so you have access to other specialists for complex health conditions and support services when needed. Our community-based cancer care program delivers advanced dermatologic surgery techniques and experience in skin cancer management to improve treatment outcomes and overall patient satisfaction.

Our care team helps you through every step -- from a consultation that brings clarity and understanding to your needs -- to the advanced treatments that build confidence throughout the recovery period.

Diagnosing and Treating Skin Cancer

Abnormal skin cell growth causes skin cancer. Our skin care program provides screening tests and diagnostic testing during the outpatient appointment. Skin cancer often occurs on skin exposed to the sun. It can also develop in areas that don’t ordinarily come into contact with sunlight. Skin cancer can affect people of all skin types, tones, and colors.

Most skin cancer begins as changes in the skin. Notice appearance changes in moles, dry, scaly patches, or new skin growths. All of these may be an indication of abnormal cell growth and should be examined by an Ascension Seton dermatologist.

Early detection and treatment can help prevent the spread of skin cancer to other parts of the body. If left untreated, skin cancer can destroy skin cells and spread through the body and even cause death.

Skin Cancer: A Quick Overview

How often should you get screened?

Types of Skin Cancer

Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas typically develop on skin that has been regularly exposed to the sun. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. The areas most affected include the head, neck, and back of the hands. The face and nose are especially vulnerable to basal cell carcinoma. This type of cancer can appear as flesh-colored or brown lesions, waxy bumps, pimple-like lesions, or sores that will not heal over time.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. These lesions can be scaly, red skin patches, sores that don’t heal, or a red raised bump.

Melanoma is much less common but far more dangerous. It can develop anywhere on the body, like moles or birthmarks, or in normally pigmented skin. The first signs of melanoma are a mole that changes in size, shape, or color or new skin growth that is unusual in appearance.

Surgical Treatment

Your care plan is based on many factors, including the type of skin cancer, stage, location, and your overall health. The goal of surgical treatment is to remove all cancerous tissue using excision, Mohs surgery, or curettage. A reconstruction procedure may be done at the same appointment.

Treatment options include:

  • Excision: The cancerous skin is cut away.
  • Mohs Surgery: Our highly trained Mohs surgeon does many of these procedures weekly. The skin cancer is removed one layer at a time and microscopically evaluated for clear margins (cancer-free areas). This surgical method provides a high level of precision. This technique is especially effective in treating skin cancers that arise in high risk or cosmetically sensitive sites or when other treatments have failed, or cancer cells reoccurs.
  • Curettage: The cancerous skin is scraped away, and then an electric needle is then used to burn any remaining cancer cells.

Non-surgical Care Options

Not all skin cancer is treated surgically. Some patients are not candidates for surgery based on other health factors. At Ascension Seton, we provide diverse care options including combination therapies:

  • Immunotherapy boosts the immune system’s ability to fight off disease. Drugs are administered to strengthen the immune response against skin cancer cells.
  • Cryosurgery works by freezing away cancerous tissue.
  • Chemotherapy medication attacks cancer cells directly. This method of treatment may be applied topically, taken orally, injected, or infused.
  • Photodynamic therapy includes applying a chemical to the affected area and then exposing the skin to a special light that destroys the cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy the cancer cells.

Treatments for Skin Cancer

When should I see a doctor?

Recognized for a High Quality of Care

The Austin Dermatologic Center provides care and services based on National Guidelines for Cancer Care. To ensure compliance and meet high standards of patient care, the Austin Dermatologic Center has monitored compliance for evidence-based guidelines for melanoma. Our retrospective study is based on 70 patients seen in consultation at Austin Dermatologic Surgery Center with a new diagnosis of melanoma from January 1 to September 25, 2018.

  • We determined the stage using both AJCC 7 and 8 criteria
  • Treatments recommendations in the clinic were evaluated against the most recent NCCN guidelines

Stage results of the 70 patients seen in consultation at the time of analysis:

  • Stage 0: 34
  • Stage IA: 27
  • Stage IB: 5
  • Stage IIA: 2
  • Stage IIB: 1
  • Stage IIC: 0
  • Stage III: 0
  • Stage IV: 1

All patients were found to have treatment recommendations concordant with NCCN guidelines at the time of diagnosis.

Preventing Skin Cancer with Education

Sun protection is a critical step to keep your skin healthy and prevent skin cancer. Avoid artificial sources of ultraviolet light such as sunlamps or tanning beds, as these devices can increase your risk for skin cancer.

Minimize midday sun exposure (between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily. Reapply throughout the day. Keep your skin covered with long sleeves or hats, even on cloudy days. Some clothing has built-in ultraviolet (UV) protection.

Don’t forget to protect your kids’ skin, too, and teach them the importance of healthy skin habits and sun protection. Sun exposure in childhood is one of the top risk factors of developing skin cancer as an adult.

Other Specialties

Learn more about skincare and treatments we offer at Ascension.

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