Know Your ABCD's of Skin Cancer
Roughly 90% of non-melanoma cancers are attributable to ultra-violet radiations from the sun. That's why prevention involves:
Curettage and Desiccation -- The preferred method of dermatologists, this treatment involves using a small metal instrument (called a curette) to scrape out the tumor along with an application of an electric current into the tissue to kill off any remaining cancer cells.
Radiation Therapy -- Radiation therapy is used for difficult-to-treat tumors, either because of their location, severity or persistence.
Surgical Excision -- In this treatment the tumor is surgically removed and stitched up.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery -- The preferred method for large tumors. The advanced microsurgical technology allows us to precisely identify and remove the affected area, down to the roots, minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy tissues. The accuracy of this procedure increases the odds of recovery and minimizes the chance of the recurrence of skin cancer.
Melanomas look like moles and often do grow inside existing moles. That's why it is important for people to conduct regular self-examinations of their skin in order to detect any potential skin cancer early, when it is treatable. Most melanomas are caused by overexposure to the sun beginning in childhood. This cancer also runs in families.
The key to detecting skin cancers is to notice changes in your skin. Look for:
~ Large brown spots with darker speckles located anywhere on the body.
~ Dark lesions on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, fingertips toes, mouth, nose or genitalia.
~ Translucent pearly and dome-shaped growths.
~ Existing moles that begin to grow, itch or bleed.
~ Brown or black streaks under the nails.
~ A sore that repeatedly heals and re-opens.
~ Clusters of slow-growing scaly lesions that are pink or red.
~ pigmented bumps that look like moles with a pearly edge
~ a sore that continuously heals and re-opens
~ flat scaly scar with a waxy appearance and blurred edges
Despite the different appearances of the cancer, they all tend to bleed with little or no cause. Eighty-five percent of basal cell carcinomas occur on the face and neck since these are areas that are most exposed to the sun.
Risk factors for basal cell carcinoma include having fair skin, sun exposure, age (most skin cancers occur after age 50), exposure to ultraviolet radiation (as in tanning beds) and therapeutic radiation given to treat an unrelated health issue.
Diagnosing basal cell carcinoma requires a biopsy -- either excisional, where the entire tumor is removed along with some of the surrounding tissue, or incisional, where only a part of the tumor is removed (used primarily for large lesions).
Squamous cell carcinoma can develop anywhere, including inside the mouth and on the genitalia. It most frequently appears on the scalp, face, ears and back of hands. Squamous cell carcinoma tends to develop among fair-skinned, middle-aged and elderly people who have a history of sun exposure. In some cases, it evolves from actinic keratoses, dry scaly lesions that can be flesh-colored, reddish-brown or yellow black, and which appear on skin that is rough or leathery. Actinic keratoses spots are considered to be precancerous.
Like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is diagnosed via a biopsy -- either excisional, where the entire tumor is removed along with some of the surrounding tissue, or incisional, where only a part of the tumor is removed (used primarily for large lesions).
Recognize the warning signs of skin cancer by using this easy-to-remember guide:
A stands for Asymmetry.
Beware of moles where one half doesn't match the other half in shape.
B stands for Border.
Watch for moles with ragged, blurred or irregular borders or edges.
C stands for Color.
Look for uneven coloration, more than one color, or moles with unusual colors.
D stands for Diameter.
Give special attention to moles with a diameter larger than
the size of a pencil eraser.
E stands for Evolving.
A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is
changing in size, shape, or color.
If any of these conditions occur, please make an appointment to see one of our dermatologists right away. The doctor may do a biopsy of the mole to determine if it is or isn't cancerous.
While melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer, it is by far the most virulent. It is the
most common form of cancer among young adults age 25 to 29. Melanocytes are cells found in
the bottom layer of the epidermis. These cells produce melanin, the substance responsible for skin pigmentation. That's why melanomas often present as dark brown or black spots on the skin. Melanomas spread rapidly to internal organs and the lymph system, making them quite dangerous. Early detection is critical for curing this skin cancer.
Squamous cells are found in the upper layer (the surface) of the epidermis. They look like fish
scales under a microscope and present as a crusted or scaly patch of skin with an inflamed,
red base. They are often tender to the touch. It is estimated that 250,000 new cases of squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed annually, and that 2,500 of them result in death.
This is the most common form of skin cancer. Basal cells reside in the deepest layer of the
epidermis, along with hair follicles and sweat ducts. When a person is overexposed to UVB
radiation, it damages the body's natural repair system, which causes basal cell carcinomas
to grow. These tend to be slow-growing tumors and rarely metastasize (spread). Basal cell
carcinomas can present in a number of different ways:
~ raised pink or pearly white bump with a pearly edge and small, visible blood vessels
Skin cancer is the most common form of human cancers, affecting more than one million Americans every year. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. Skin cancers are generally curable if caught early. However, people who have had skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing a new skin cancer, which is why regular self-examination and doctor visits are imperative.
The vast majority of skin cancers are composed of three different types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
1419 Village Dr, St. Joseph, MO, 64506 - 816-364-1507
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