Screening & Treatment
Skin Cancer Screening
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, affecting millions each year. In fact, an estimated 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
Defined as the overgrowth of abnormal skin cells caused by DNA damage, skin cancer can affect anyone, at any time of life, anywhere on the body - although it is most common on skin that is regularly exposed to sunlight.
Fortunately, it is also highly treatable and one of the most preventable types of cancer. Common types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are usually a result of frequent sun exposure, and melanomas, which frequently develop within moles or appear as dark spots on the skin.
Here at Dermatology Associates, we work with clients to provide early skin cancer detection and treatment and to educate people on preventative measures like skin care, SPF adherence, and self-exams.
The Types of Skin Cancer
There are several types of skin cancer, but these three are the most common:
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. In most cases, it grows slowly and appears on parts of the body that get a lot of sun exposure, like the face, neck, and ears. Most basal cell carcinoma spots look like a shiny bump, a flat brown or pinkish lesion, or a pink growth.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is also a slow-growing type of skin cancer, but it sends deep roots into the skin. It tends to develop on areas like the face, ears, hands, and lips and often looks like a firm red bump, an open sore, or a scaly patch of skin.
Melanoma is one of the most serious forms of skin cancer, as it spreads quickly and can develop in pre-existing moles. Melanoma spots often manifest as white, black, blue, or red lesions or moles with irregular borders.
Skin Cancer Symptoms
Part of the reason that skin cancer is so dangerous is that the symptoms are easy to overlook. With this in mind, here are a few things you should look for when you perform self-checks of your skin:
- Any spot or mark that’s new, especially if you’re over 30 years old.
- Spots or marks that are different from the others on your body.
- Spots or marks that change in size, shape, color, or feel.
- Any spot, mark, or mole that is itchy, bleeding, crusting, or oozing.
- Moles with irregular borders.
If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with a dermatologist immediately.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
When detected early, skin cancer is a very treatable condition. The treatment you receive will depend on the type, size, and location of the cancerous spot. First, our team will examine the skin carefully to identify the potential cancerous growth. Next, we’ll take a skin biopsy to determine which type of skin cancer is present.
From there, we’ll work with you to decide on a treatment option. Small, surface-level skin cancers may only require minor surgery. Deeper cancers, however, may require more invasive treatment. For these cancers, we use treatments like excision (cutting away and removing the growth), cryotherapy (freezing the affected tissue with liquid nitrogen), curettage and electrocautery (scraping away the cancerous tissue and cauterizing the area with an electric needle, which kills any cancer cells left behind), and photodynamic therapy (which uses laser light cells and complementary chemicals to kill cancerous tissue).
Depending on the type of cancer, we may also use Mohs micrographic surgery, which is the gold standard of skin cancer treatment in the field of dermatology. Mohs surgery is effective for a variety of dangerous skin cancers, including basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.