Skin cancer is dangerous. All cancer is, yes, but skin cancer attacks the largest organ in your body – the shield protecting the rest of you. That means prevention should be a top priority and treatment should be done with care…and experience.
Our top skin cancer surgeon, Dr. Jorge Garcia-Zuazaga, has performed over 20,000 skin cancer procedures over the course of his career thus far, specializing in Mohs Micrographic Surgery, which has one of the highest chances of skin cancer recovery. He knows just how important being fully informed is when it comes to protecting your skin from skin cancer.
Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga’s Strategy Against Cancer
Some people fight with cancer hand-to-hand, others sit on the sidelines and wait until cancer comes to them before attacking and taking it down. Dr. Garcia Zuazaga is the latter. He is one of the very few doctors in the state of Ohio who is trained in a specific form of skin cancer removal called Mohs Micrographic Surgery. With a 98% success rate, it’s no wonder patients flock to him for their skin cancer needs.
This is a Lifestyle for Dr. Garcia Zuazaga
Dr. Garcia, who was recently awarded, yet again, the nation-wide Castle Connolly Top Doctor Award for dermatology says,
“This isn’t just what I do for a living; it’s my passion. My life is focused on helping people come out of difficult situations with confidence and a smile.”
Dr. Garcia’s professional background is impressive. Before medical school, he earned a Masters degree in biomedical engineering. He earned his MD degree from Penn State University, graduating at the top 5% of his class. Following his internship at the renowned National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, he served with distinction as a US Marines Flight Surgeon with multiple overseas deployments. He completed his dermatology training at University Hospitals/Case Western Reserve University and his dermatologic surgery fellowship at Harvard Medical School.
With his advanced training and desire to make a difference, Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga has been able to change the lives of many.
“I founded Apex to bridge the gap of much-needed dermatology and skin care services in Northeast Ohio.”
Here are some common skin cancer questions Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga often hears in his practice.
1. What is the best treatment for skin cancer?
As dangerous as skin cancer can be, there are a number of highly effective treatment options. The key, however, is early detection!
“Depending on the type of cancer, there are multiple ways of treating it. Surgical procedures offer the best cure rates with Mohs micrographic surgery being the gold standard for treatment of most skin cancer on head and neck.”
2. How does Mohs surgery work/how is it different than other treatments?
Unlike many cancer treatments, Mohs is highly effective at treating skin cancer provided that it’s detected early.
Mohs surgery works like this:
It’s performed on an outpatient basis. First, local anesthesia is used to numb the tumor site. Then, as much of the visible tumor as possible is taken off by scraping with a special instrument. This delineates the clinical margins of the tumor. A thin layer of skin at the tumor site is then removed and examined under a microscope. If evidence of tumor cells is found at the edges of the sample, the surgeon will remove and examine another skin sample. These steps will be repeated until no tumor can be detected under the microscope. Depending on the extent of the tumor, the process may be repeated several times. Most patients clear in 2 or 3 layers.
During this procedure, the healthy skin is preserved, facilitating a more elegant reconstruction resulting in a smaller scar. When performed by a fellowship trained Mohs surgeon like Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga, the cure rates are 98% for most common skin cancers.
3. What can a patient expect during and after Mohs surgery?
Mohs surgery is a very common, simple procedure. There’s usually not much pain or discomfort after surgery. In fact, most people return to their normal daily activities the following day, though the sire is usually bandaged for a few days.
We recommend that you have extra strength Tylenol available. Please avoid taking Advil, Motrin or Aleve for pain after the procedure since these medications may thin your blood. On certain occasions, your doctor may prescribe a prescription pain medication after the procedure.
“In our offices, we perform Mohs as an outpatient procedure, under local anesthesia. There are no facility fees or big O.R. charges, and parking is free. Patients are seen on time and without long waits to treat their skin cancer once they are diagnosed. We are all about offering the best treatments available without the extra fees,” Dr. Garcia says.
4. How many Mohs surgeries have you performed to date?
With a procedure like Mohs, experience is best. Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga has performed over 20,000 skin cancer surgeries in his career. “Apex is becoming the premier referral skin cancer center in our region, and it’s because experience counts when it comes to skin cancer,” he says.
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5. What are other common skin cancer treatments?
Since skin cancer is so common and varied, there are a number of different treatment options with different levels of success.
There are surgical options like Mohs surgery, excisional surgery, cryosurgery and more.
Other common, non-surgical skin cancer treatment options include radiation therapy, photodynamic therapy, topical medications, and even laser treatment.
Each of our seven Apex Skin locations is staffed with board-certified dermatologists that are focused on our mission: to transform lives through healthy skin. Each of us take time to discuss appropriate treatment plans and ensure all is communicated appropriately.
6. How can you prevent skin cancer?
Since it’s always better to prevent tragedy than try and fix it, we always encourage our patients to use a broad spectrum SPF every day (yes, even in the winter), along with regularly visiting a dermatologist for skin checks.
Ultimately, avoiding excessive sun exposure, never using a tanning bed, and ensuring you always wear and reapply sunscreen are go-tos for skin cancer prevention. Apex offers SPOT check program, which earned Dr. Garcia the Red Cross Hero award, and guarantees any suspicious lesion will be seen within 24-hours.
Dr. Garcia says, “It’s a simple program that can save a life.”
At Apex, we are skin cancer experts. If you notice a skin lesion that is new or changing, or if it’s been over a year since your last skin cancer screening, give us a call at 833-279- SKIN (7546) and we’ll get you a same-day appointment!
About Dr. Jorge Garcia Zuazaga
Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga graduated from Marquette University with a degree of Biomedical Engineering. In college he earned a prestigious National Science Foundation scholarship and served as President of the Latin American Student Association. From Milwaukee, he moved to Ames, Iowa, where he completed his Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering. It was his work with artificial heart valves that led him to consider a career in medicine.
In 1995, Garcia-Zuazaga was commissioned in the United States Navy and enrolled in the Navy Health Profession Scholarship Program. In 1999, he graduated at the top 5% of his medical school class at Penn State and moved to DC to complete his Internship at the renowned National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.