Helping You Understand and Eliminate Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer with more than 3 million cases diagnosed in this country each year. Due to its seriousness and frequency, we provide patients with comprehensive care for the treatment of skin cancer. At our McMinnville, OR, and Newberg, OR, office locations, Dr. Richard Ecker offers numerous procedures to help our patients maintain their dermatological and overall health. With proper education and awareness, you can notice skin cancer or precancerous indications and pursue treatment before they progress further.

We can diagnose, treat, and monitor signs of skin cancer for your well being, appearance, and peace of mind. To learn more about skin cancer or schedule a consultation with Dr. Ecker, contact our office today.

Types of Skin Cancer

A doctor examines a dark spot on a man's shoulder with a magnifying glass

Skin cancer is the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of skin cells. If left untreated, skin cancers will slowly grow and destroy surrounding tissue.  Some cancers can spread to other parts of your body and be fatal. For this reason, early detection and treatment are important to ensure a good outcome. There are three primary types of skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

This type of skin cancer is the least dangerous of the three because it is usually slow growing and not likely to spread throughout your body.  Basal cell carcinoma growths often have a lustrous, shiny surface and can be pink, brown, or flesh colored. They often bleed easily with minimal skin trauma such as rubbing or shaving.  They can occur on any part of the body which has a history of sun or tanning bed exposure.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

These cancerous growths are the second most common type.  They frequently occur as raised, scaly growths or persistent ulcers that flake or bleed.  Although they can, in some instances, spread to other parts of your body, if they are treated early this is not likely to occur and the outcome is usually good.  Like basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas also tend to occur in skin areas with long-term ultraviolet light exposure.

Melanoma

This is one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer as it can be aggressive and may spread to other areas of the body. Melanoma grows in the pigmented skin cells, and can sometimes develop from moles. Because of this, it is important to monitor your entire skin surface and existing moles for the ABCDEs:  (asymmetry, unusual borders, shifting colors, expanding diameters, and any other form of evolution or change in the mole’s appearance or texture.  Moles that begin to ooze liquid, bleed, grow rapidly or irregularly should always be examined by a skin specialist.

As a general rule, if you notice any unusual or changing skin growths, contact our office for a consultation. The earlier we can detect and treat skin cancer, the better it is for you.

Diagnosis

When you come in for your consultation, Dr. Ecker will examine your skin for signs of cancerous or precancerous growths (such as actinic keratoses, which can become squamous cell carcinomas). If he notices anything suspicious, he will recommend that it be sampled for a biopsy. After a local anesthetic and removal of a sample, the specimen will be processed at a lab and he will examine it under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous and, if so, which type of skin cancer it is. At this point, Dr. Ecker will recommend an appropriate course of treatment. We are committed to finding the most effective and cosmetically acceptable methods with the highest cure rate to keep your skin healthy.

Treatment Options

Dr. Ecker may recommend one or more treatment options based on the type, size, and scope of your skin precancer or skin cancer:

  • Cryotherapy – Dr. Ecker may use liquid nitrogen to freeze precancerous growths, causing them to slough off over the next few weeks. 
  • Topical Chemotherapy – Lotions or creams with chemicals that prevent cell growth may be prescribed to stop the spread or development of skin cancer and precancers. You will apply this treatment directly on your skin once or twice daily for about six weeks until your lesions are gone.
  • Superficial Destruction - For small low-risk squamous or basal cell carcinomas, this method is often used whereby the tumor is destroyed with an instrument called a curette.
  • Surgical Excision -  In this common procedure, the tumor site is marked, surgically removed and repaired, and the specimen and the specimen is sent to an outside lab for processing.  This is the only method for melanomas and is sometimes used with other skin cancers. 
  • MOHS Surgery – Typically reserved for more complex skin cancer cases or patients with a high risk of recurrence, Dr. Ecker can surgically remove the tumor and surrounding layers of skin with MOHS surgery. In this process, he will also microscopically examine each tissue specimen in detail to ensure that no malignancy remains.
  • Radiation – If your skin cancer is more aggressive, large, or has spread to other parts of your body, Dr. Ecker may refer you to a radiation specialist for more advanced treatment.

At Yamhill Valley Dermatology and Laser Center, we will work closely with you to determine which treatment options are appropriate for your needs and preferences. With each of these treatments, Dr. Ecker uses his dermatological knowledge and experience to effect a high cure rate while giving ample concern for the cosmetic outcome.  No matter which procedure you choose,  we arrange for your long-term follow-up to detect any possible recurrences or additional skin cancers.

Early Detection and Treatment is Vital

Understanding these serious conditions and knowing when to seek treatment could save your life. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ecker.