Malignant skin tumors are operated on under general or local anesthesia, depending on the size of the tumor. If the tumor is small in size, the patient does not experience any pain and may resume everyday activities the very same day. The surgical treatment and histopathological analysis are required for malignant tumors, in order to make sure that the tumor has been completely removed.
Basal cell carcinoma of the skin: the most common malignant skin tumor. Surgery provides complete elimination of the problem without the administration of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Due to this, some experts believe that basal cell skin carcinoma does not "deserve" to be classified as carcinoma. However, this name is quite justified, because the growth of cancer can be prevented by surgery ONLY. This tumor should be surgically removed on time to prevent its spreading. If the tumor increases in size over the period of several years, it may invade deeper tissues, but metastases rarely occur. In such a case, it requires long-term treatment and even the administration of radiation therapy. It occurs in older age groups, mainly in people with pale complexion, usually on the parts of the body exposed to the sun, such as the face or hands. Patients usually seek medical assistance when they notice that they have a "wound" that cannot heal. Sometimes the tumor occurs in the form of nodules or due to its colour it reminds of a mole (Picture 1, 2, 3).
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: the second most common form of skin cancer. It can occur anywhere on the body but it is most commonly found on the head and neck (Picture 4). It usually appears in the form of precancerous lesions and open sores. This tumor has all characteristics of a malignant disease: aggressive infiltrative growth and possible recurrence of the tumor in the same place, as well as frequent metastases. This tumor requires surgical treatment.
Malignant melanoma: skin cancer which occurs rarely. However, it is very invasive and results in metastases easily (Picture 5, 6, 7). The cause of this cancer is not known. However, possible risk factors include the following: the existence of moles, pale complexion, often and excessive exposure to sun and genetic predisposition. In most cases melanoma appears on the place of the existing moles, and very rarely on the normal parts of the skin. Early detection of malignant melanoma is of utmost importance. A patient should visit a plastic surgeon if he/she detects a skin lesion which is asymmetrical (A), jagged, with blurry edges (B), with two or more color tones (C), skin lesion which bleeds or has a diameter greater than 6 mm (D) (Picture 8). According to their color, size or asymmetry many skin lesions resemble melanoma. Therefore, only a surgeon who specializes in skin cancer surgery (plastic surgeon) can determine the accurate diagnosis and whether the operation is required.
Dermoscopy is a preoperative method of establishing a diagnosis of melanoma, which can either confirm or dismiss the suspicion for melanoma. Dermoscopic examination is beneficial even for detailed planning of the melanoma operation. The final diagnosis of melanoma is made based on histopathological analysis. The procedure involves a wide excision so that the tumor could be completely removed and so that any possibility of the tumor recurrence could be avoided.