The first step in treating skin cancer is identifying it, and that begins with a professional skin cancer screening. With a main office in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area and outreach clinics in the surrounding communities, Cedar Valley ASCENT features a team of experienced, knowledgeable skin cancer specialists with extensive expertise in conducting these full-body skin cancer screenings. Your examination is a visual screening that will be conducted at your provider’s office in the same private setting as a regular office visit. Reviewing your skin from head to toe over the course of about 10-15 minutes, your provider will discuss any spots or other skin areas you are concerned with or have questions about and will advise on steps to take in order to monitor potential problem areas (such as moles). It is typically recommended that patients monitor and report to their providers any changes to moles, including those involving size and color, as well as changes in sensation, any spread in pigmentation beyond the border of a mole or mark, and other developments.

If your provider is concerned that a spot may be skin cancer, he or she will order a biopsy, during which time a sample of that skin is removed and later examined by a pathologist so the cancer diagnosis can be confirmed. A skin growth that has been confirmed to be cancerous will be later removed by a skin cancer specialist such as Dr. David J. Congdon of Cedar Valley ASCENT and this procedure can almost always be performed on an outpatient basis in our office. A local anesthetic is used during most procedures and pain or discomfort is usually minimal. Undergoing this treatment in a prompt manner after diagnosis helps increase the cells’ responsiveness to the treatment. Depending on the type of skin cancer you are diagnosed with, a certain surgical treatment method may be pursued, some of which include:

  • Mohs micrographics surgery (where thin tissue layers are removed and studied and this process is repeated until no cancerous tissue remains)
  • Excisional surgery (involving the removal of the entire visible growth and surrounding area, which is then studied; these steps are also repeated until no tumorous cells exist)
  • Electrosurgery (small growths are shaved off and burned with an electronic needle, potentially several times until all cancer is eliminated)
  • Cryosurgery (liquid nitrogen is used to remove malignancies for as many applications as needed)

In the rare event where the growth removal requires a deeper or more extensive level of tissue removal, Dr. Congdon can provide reconstructive services. Board-certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Inc., Dr. Congdon can explain your options and give you a better idea of what to expect as a result of your procedure.