530-272-2303info@sierraderm.com SIERRADERM, Center for Dermatology • Northern California

FAQ page

Here you can find answers to our frequently asked questions.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is PDT?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment performed with a topical photosensitizing agent called Levulan (5- aminolevulinic acid or ALA) activated with the correct wavelength of light. These treatments remove sun damaged pre-cancerous zones and spots called actinic keratosis. Sun damage, fine lines, and blotchy pigmentation may also improve.
How many treatments will PDT take?
Most patients with just actinic keratosis are happy with just one treatment. More treatments can be done at periodic intervals in the future to maintain the rejuvenated appearance of the skin.
What are the advantages of PDT?
PDT may be easier for patients than repeated topical liquid nitrogen, Efudex (5-FU), or Aldara because the side effects are minimal and healing is more rapid. Levulan improves the whole area (including non-visible lesions) creating one color, texture, and tone rather than just spot treating with liquid nitrogen, cautery, and surgery. Spot treating can leave white spots on your skin.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is a term for a variety of growths on the skin. Other terms are skin tumor and skin malignancy.
Are there different types of skin cancer?
Yes. The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. Approximately 1,000,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in this country. Another common skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. The third most common skin cancer is malignant melanoma.
Are skin cancers life threatening?
The two most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are rarely life threatening. These tumors replace normal surrounding tissue and generally do not spread to other areas. The third most common skin cancer, malignant melanoma, can be life threatening if treated late. When discovered and treated early, malignant melanoma is curable. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas never “turn into” malignant melanoma.
Can I get skin cancer anywhere on my body?
While skin cancers usually appear on skin that has been chronically exposed to the sun (like the head, neck, arms, and chest), you can get skin cancer anywhere - even on skin that has rarely or "never" been exposed to the sun (for example, the genitals).
How is skin cancer such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma treated?
There are several effective treatments for these tumors. Therapies such as burning with electric current, surgery and radiation therapy are successful. However for tumors that have recurred following treatment or for tumors in difficult-to-treat sites, frozen section surgical removal or Mohs micrographic surgery offers the best chance for total removal.
Once I’ve had a skin cancer, will I develop more?
Studies have shown that once you develop a skin cancer, there is an increased risk of developing others in the years ahead. For this reason, it is important for you to continue seeing your primary Dermatologist at regularly scheduled intervals, and to schedule an appointment if you are concerned about new or changing growths on your skin. You can reduce your risk of developing more skin cancers by protecting your skin from further sun damage, but continued vigilance on your part is required (along with scheduled visits to your Dermatologist) to help detect further skin cancers at an early stage.
How can I protect myself from developing more skin cancer?
The best protection from skin cancer is to avoid the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Even if you tan easily, the sun can contribute to skin cancer in two ways. First, the sunlight damages the genes that control cell growth, and second sunlight damages the body's immune system so that early cancers grow unchecked by normal immune defense.
I am considering SierraDerm, what do I need to know?
Thank you for the consideration. You can find all the new patient information here.
Do you offer financing?
As a service to our patients, we are pleased to offer direct financing for cosmetic procedures through CareCredit, the nation's leading healthcare financing program. CareCredit has a simple application process and immediate approval online - this can usually be completed while you are still in the office. A full range of extended payment plans are available with CareCredit. The application process is only done once and may be used again without reapplying. If you are interested in discussing this credit payment plan option, please ask a member of the staff and they will be happy to provide you with the information and the short application form.
What do I need to know about Minors?
Please note that all patients who are under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian to receive treatment. If a follow-up visit is necessary, a form may be signed by the minor's parent or legal guardian that gives us permission to treat an unaccompanied minor. Please contact our office if you should have any questions prior to your appointment. We look forward to seeing you at your visit!

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Skin Cancer