Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in America – and one of the most dangerous. Over 2 million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year. Early detection and treatment of skin cancer can save your life and significantly limit signs of damage to your skin. Many skin cancers are treatable, as long as they are caught in time. New Jersey plastic surgeon Dr. Paul LoVerme is experienced with a range of skin cancer and reconstructive procedures designed to remove serious threats to your health and minimize the visible effects of treatment.
Dr. LoVerme is a member of the Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma Center at HackensackUMC/Mountainside. He has been performing skin cancer surgery for over 30 years and has treated more than 5000 skin cancers. In 2014, Dr. LoVerme was the only Plastic Surgeon at HackensackUMC /Mountainside to be honored as a “Top Doc in Cancer” by Inside Jersey Magazine.
Dr. LoVerme pioneered the use of the Sentinel Lymph Node operation and performed the first such procedure at Mountainside Hospital. Sentinel Lymph Node removal is now the standard of care for many breast cancers and melanoma.
When metastatic or complex cancers are found, Dr. LoVerme will work with Surgical and/or Medical Oncologists from area or New York hospitals, including HackensackUMC, HackensackUMC/Mountainside, St. Barnabas Health System, and Morristown Memorial Hospital.
Please contact us today for more information, or to schedule an appointment with our board-certified plastic surgeon.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are three major types of skin cancer. They include:
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. This condition usually is very slow-growing and does not typically spread from the original area in which it is found, typically making it the least dangerous form of skin cancer. With that in mind, it can damage deeper tissues and bone, particularly when originating near the eye. A basal cell carcinoma usually manifests as a waxy growth with elevated borders and a dented center. The condition may also appear as a scaly, dry, or red spot; a crusty lump; a white, scar-like patch; or a bleeding sore that doesn’t heal.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinomas are dangerous cancers that can be life-threatening. They often present as a red, scaly patch on the skin with irregular borders. These types of skin cancer may look like an open sore or a wart, and they can bleed if picked at or bumped. Squamous cell carcinomas often affect areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun – the ears, lips, and other areas of the face are common places where they appear. They are capable of spreading to the lymph nodes, internal organs, and other body areas.
Melanomas can occur on virtually any area of the body, and they are the most life-threatening type of skin cancer. Often resembling moles, melanomas are typically uneven in color, have irregular borders, and are usually wider than about six millimeters in diameter. Untreated melanomas can metastasize and seriously endanger your health.
It is vital to regularly check areas of skin for any abnormalities, new growths, or changes to existing growths. Any type of growth on the skin, whether it’s been there for years or if it’s something that is unfamiliar to you, should be checked by a doctor to ensure it is not cancerous. The sooner diagnosis and treatment for skin cancer is sought, the greater the chances of survival.
Skin Cancer Treatment
Dr. LoVerme offers a number of advanced treatments to remove cancerous or pre-cancerous areas of the skin. Many dermatologists refer complex and facial skin cancers to Dr. LoVerme because of his expertise and excellent results. He will work diligently to completely eradicate the threat when possible, while utilizing techniques to minimize residual scarring. Dr. LoVerme not only wants to keep the skin healthy, but also to reduce any visible signs of damage once the problem area has been removed. Once the cancer is removed and post-operative care is completed, you will be referred back to your original dermatologist for surveillance. If you do not have a dermatologist, Dr. LoVerme will refer you to one.
Since Dr. LoVerme has been treating skin cancers for over 30 years, he is an expert in the field. He will use the simplest yet most effective treatment for the type and location of a skin cancer. Dr. LoVerme often uses a procedure similar to Moh’s surgery, where the skin cancer is removed and the borders surrounding the tumor are examined by a board-certified Pathologist before the area is reconstructed, thereby being certain that all cancer is removed without removing any extra tissue. This is referred to as Frozen Section Control of the Margins and has been used successfully by Dr. LoVerme for over 30 years. The procedure yields cure rates above 95% for Basal Cell Cancer (BCC) and Squamous Cell Cancer (SCC). At other times, Dr. LoVerme will work in conjunction with a dermatologist who performs Moh’s surgery and Dr. LoVerme will then perform the reconstruction. These procedures also produce cure rates for BCC and SCC of greater than 95%.
Dr. LoVerme uses the correct reconstruction technique for the best cancer treatment and cosmetic outcome. This may require only primary plastic surgical repair following the natural lines on the face or body, or it may require a local skin flap (i.e., rearrangement of the skin) or a skin graft. In extreme cases, distant flaps may be required to properly close a larger defect.
Melanoma treatment may require biopsy of the sentinel lymph nodes which drain the area involved. Dr. LoVerme was a pioneer in the use of Sentinel Node biopsy and performed the first such procedure at Mountainside Hospital. In these cases, the radiologist will inject a radioactive dye and scans are performed immediately before the operation to identify the primary lymph nodes that drain the area. These nodes are then removed during the same surgery when the melanoma is removed. This procedure identifies if there has been spread of the tumor and limits the associated problems that occur when all of the lymph nodes in the drainage basin are removed (such as lymphedema).
Skin Cancer Prevention
One of the most effective ways to prevent skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreens with an SPF-level of 30 or higher can fight off both UVA and UVB rays and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. You should also make regular appointments with a dermatologist and your primary care doctor to screen for irregularities, and be sure to do self-examinations and see a physician as soon as you notice any unusual growths, lesions, or abnormalities on your skin.
To learn more about skin cancer treatment options, or to schedule a consultation, please contact The LoVerme Center today.