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Cosmetic Plastic and Reconstructive Skin Cancer Surgery

By December 8, 2008 Skin Cancer

Whoever said too much of a good thing can be a bad thing probably wasn’t talking about the hot Texas sun, but ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr. Ted Benke, said he could have been.

That’s because too much exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer.

Benke said if you’re one of the more than one million people diagnosed with skin cancer this year, and surgery is necessary to remove it, he can help.

Benke is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, which is the medical specialty that treats infectious diseases, both benign and malignant tumors, facial trauma, and deformities of the face. Benke also performs both cosmetic plastic and reconstructive surgery and is a member of the Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

The type of treatment for skin cancer depends on the type and size of skin cancer, the patient’s age and the patient’s overall health, he said.

“Surgery is the most common form of treatment,” Benke said. “It generally consists of an office or outpatient procedure to remove the lesion and check the edges to make sure all the cancer was removed.

“In many cases, I repair the site with simple stitches, but in larger skin cancers, I may have to take some skin from another body site to cover the wound and promote healing.”

Benke said this procedure is called skin grafting.

“In more advanced cases of skin cancer, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be used, along with surgery, to improve cure rates.”

In Texas, many people work outdoors, and that means they are more at risk of developing skin cancer.

“The sun’s most powerful rays are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so people who work outdoors like lawn service people and oil and gas people should take special precautions to cover up,” Benke said.

Benke said those who have long-term sun exposure or who have fair skin, typically blonde or red hair with freckles, are more at risk. Other factors include the presence of moles, particularly if there are irregular edges, uneven coloring, or an increase in the size of the mole, a family history of skin cancer, use of indoor tanning devices, severe sunburns as a child or non-healing ulcers of nodules in the skin.

“Skin cancer lesions can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on the areas that are most commonly exposed to the sun, like the face, ears, neck, back and hands,” he said.

Benke said the most common type of skin cancer he sees in his office is basal cell carcinoma, which is commonly found on the scalp, face and neck. This type of skin cancer accounts for approximately 70 percent of skin cancers diagnosed annually.

“The typical basal cell carcinoma is a nodular lesion with a raised pearly-white border or a scaly or scar-like appearance that may bleed easily. Basal cell carcinomas don’t metastasize, and they can be treated in a variety of ways.”

Benke said a dermatologist may freeze or curette them, while a head and neck surgeon, like himself, may excise them with a small margin and do a meticulous closure of the defect. Occasionally, the defect will require the rotation of a small local flap.

Another type of skin cancer Benke commonly diagnoses is squamous cell carcinoma, which is characterized by reddish, crusty, scaling, firm lesions with well defined edges. Unlike basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma can spread to the lymph nodes and become serious.

“Since squamous cell carcinoma is more aggressive, we excise a larger margin to ensure complete removal,” Benke said. “Larger tumors are usually treated with wide excision and neck dissection to remove any possible metastases.

“ Being able to differentiate the benign from the malignant changes is of the utmost importance.”

If you have an area of concern on the face, ears, neck or scalp, contact Dr. Benke f or an appointment, or for more information, call 817-641-3750 or go to contact us.