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School of Medicine
Skin Cancer Reconstruction
What You Need to Know:
- Skin cancers can be life-threatening, especially in cases of melanoma.
- The two main types of skin cancer are melanoma and nonmeloma.
- When caught early, removal of moles and other growths is fairly simple.
- Occasionally, the removal can be more complex, and reconstructive surgery may be required.
Skin Cancer Types
- Melanoma can develop in a pre-existing mole or as a dark spot on the body, most commonly on the head or neck, the back, or the back of the legs. It is characterized by a mole that looks uneven in terms of its border, shape or color.
- Nonmelanoma skin cancers can be either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma often develops as a waxy spot that may crust and bleed when bumped. It tends to grow very slowly, over months to years, and although potentially quite disfiguring and locally invasive, it rarely metastasizes to other parts of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma often looks like a mound of tissue or wounded skin that doesn’t heal. Although not as dangerous as melanoma or many forms of internal cancer, squamous cell carcinoma will occasionally spread to the local lymph glands and on to the rest of the body.
In addition to melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, there are a number of much rarer types of skin cancers.
Skin Cancer Reconstructive Surgery
If you are diagnosed with a type of skin cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery as the best option for removing the cancer and preventing its spread. Depending on the type of skin cancer and how much skin and tissue around the cancer needs to be removed, your doctor may recommend reconstructive surgery to replace the skin and tissue and to minimize scarring.
This may include Mohs surgery, which is known as the most effective treatment for most types of skin cancer. This procedure removes the cancerous tissue and minimizes the loss of healthy tissue.
Why choose Johns Hopkins?
At Johns Hopkins, our plastic surgeons have experience with all types of reconstruction necessary after skin cancer removal. They have learned about and, in many cases, taught the latest and most effective surgical techniques. In addition to their general expertise in reconstructive surgery, our plastic surgeons have performed a wide range of types of skin grafts and tissue transfers. They are fully skilled at restoring the skin cancer site so that it looks like the skin around it. Because they work at Johns Hopkins, they can call on any other kind of medical expertise needed right at the facility, from pathologists and oncologists to dermatologists.
The surgeons in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, located in Baltimore, Maryland, are devoted to their profession, and that includes consulting with patients, their families and others as needed. From the first consultation to the final checkup, our reconstructive surgeons make themselves available and accessible to patients.