Skin Cancer

HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE SKIN CANCER?

Fortunately, most skin growths that have been present for years are benign in nature. However, if you have a spot or bump that is new and perhaps changing over time, an evaluation by a dermatologist is recommended. Skin cancers are quite common. In the United States alone, there are more than three million skin cancers treated every year.

The most common skin cancers are called basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). If discovered early, surgical removal is a simple in-office procedure that is almost painless. These tumors have a high rate of surgical cure when caught early. The following photos provide common presentations of these cancers.

Examples of Basal cell carcinomas
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bcc-lt-nose-1

bcc-rt-up-back

bcc-lt-nose-2

bcc-behind-ear

Examples of Squamous cell carcinomas:

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scc-lt-forearm

Ordinarily, itching or bleeding are not early warning signs of skin cancer. Most early skin cancers are without symptoms. They are spots that change over time. They can appear as pimples that don’t heal or as skin patches that don’t go away and may grow, sometimes slowly and sometimes rapidly. You are not expected to self diagnose these cancers. A dermatologist, a medical doctor specializing in skin conditions, is highly recommended for greater accuracy in diagnosis and instituting appropriate treatment.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MELANOMA?

Melanoma is a mole cancer and if not caught very early, it can be fatal. Fortunately, most melanomas are discovered by the patient and prompts him/her to seek medical advice. Today, the majority of melanomas in the United States are treated at an early and highly curable stage. But because they can be unpredictable in their appearance, unpredictable in how fast they grow, and unpredictable in how aggressive they can be, learning to perform regular self examination at home can be life saving.

Examples of melanoma: Note the irregularity of border, color, shape as well as well-defined margins
Click on the images below to enlarge

melanoma-in-situ-lt-lat-leg

melanoma-lt-forehead

melanoma-volar-forearm-rt

melanoma-volar-rt-forearm-view


SHOULD I GET A SKIN CANCER SCREENING TEST BY MY DOCTOR?

Routine skin cancer screening is not recommended for everyone. But…

  • IF YOU HAVE HAD A SKIN CANCER…. Yes, periodic examinations by your dermatologist is recommended.
  • IF YOU HAVE NOT HAD A SKIN CANCER… No studies have shown higher cure rates with skin cancer screenings.
  • IF FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE HAD SKIN CANCER… Maybe, but other risk factors including unprotected chronic sun exposure, older age, and a weakened immune system are far stronger risk factors unless you have a rare genetic disease predisposing to skin cancers earlier in life.
  • IF YOU HAVE HAD A MELANOMA… Yes, lifelong periodic examinations are recommended.
  • IF YOU HAVE MOLES… Maybe, but having a few normal moles is not considered a risk factor for melanoma.
  • IF YOU HAVE MANY MOLES… Not necessarily but having more than 50 moles, changing moles, irregular moles, extensive freckling, skin cancer or having two family members with melanoma are risk factors that increase your personal risk for melanoma. Any of these findings are sufficient reason to see your dermatologist, but whether you will need regular skin cancer or melanoma screenings should be discussed with your dermatologist.

HERE ARE THE 6 MOST IMPORTANT TIPS TO HELP YOU!

  1. Educate yourself on skin cancers or melanomas and what to look for.
  2. Monitor your own skin for new or changing spots. Taking a selfie may help to establish a baseline!
  3. Protect yourself from sunburns. Even a tan indicates that there has been sun damage.
  4. Be generous and apply two layers of sunscreen daily. More than 50% of people do not apply a sufficient quantity of sunscreen, resulting in a radical decrease in sun protection
  5. Avoid scheduling outdoor activities during mid day.
  6. Add to your wardrobe sun protective wide brimmed hats and long sleeves. No baseball caps or visors!
For more information on Skin Cancer Treatment , please request a consultation, or call us at (808) 949-7568.