Brother-Sister Physician Duo Treat Skin Cancer Patients in Their Hometown of Hampton Roads
They say that some things just run in the family. This could not be truer for Hampton Roads physicians Dr. T. Randall Blanchard of Plastic Surgery Center of Hampton Roads and Dr. Z. Christine Marcuson of Peninsula Dermatology Skin Cancer Surgery Center. Despite working in different specialties for different practices, the siblings work together to remove skin cancer and help patients restore the appearance of the face or scalp.
According to the CDC, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and about 4.3 million adults are treated for the condition each year. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell skin cancer and melanoma. As outlined by the National Cancer Institute, Hampton, Va. reported an average of 28 melanoma cases a year between 2015 and 2019. However, nearby Virginia Beach, Va. reported the most cases in the state, with an average of 200 new melanoma cases a year.
While treatment options vary based on location, type and severity of the cancer, Mohs surgery is one of the most common treatments for skin cancer. Mohs surgery is a highly precise surgical technique that combines surgery and microscopic analysis to remove numerous types of skin cancers of the face and neck, with cure rates of up to 99%. During this procedure, a dermatologist with fellowship training in Mohs surgery excises the cancer in stages, removing one small section of skin at a time and examining it under a microscope. Excision continues until there is no more cancer detected. From there, the defect is repaired either by the Mohs surgeon or by a board certified plastic surgeon.
During Mohs surgery, Dr. Marcuson aims to preserve normal skin and reduce scarring for the best functional and cosmetic outcome. However, some cases require further intervention to properly close the wound. As patients grapple with the effects of skin cancer, closing the wound and removing scarring can vastly improve their quality of life and confidence. This is where Dr. Marcuson’s brother, Dr. Blanchard, comes in. Dr. Blanchard takes an individualized approach to each patient, closing the wound and reconstructing the affected area with minimal scarring and natural-looking results. Reconstruction methods include skin grafts, skin flaps or stitches.
As Hampton Roads natives, the siblings are grateful for the opportunity to serve patients in their community. The decision to care for cancer patients is also a personal one, as the siblings lost both of their parents to cancer.
“Our parents both passed away from internal cancers”, explains Dr. Marcuson. “That has certainly shaped my approach to patient care, and I know it has shaped my brother’s as well. The ability to help someone else’s parent, spouse or sibling navigate the experience with skin cancer with precision and compassion is a privilege neither of us takes lightly.”
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