Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with an estimated three million people affected annually. It is estimated that one in five. Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The good news is that skin cancer, when caught early, is easily treatable. Thus, timely detection is key. Skin cancer can affect the young and old, and people of all ethnicity and skin colors; therefore it is important to do monthly self-checks looking for changes in your skin and to have an annual skin exam by a dermatologist.
The three most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas are more commonly found in areas of sun exposure and often present as red scaly patches or bumps that scab, bleed or do not heal. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and can present as a changing, dark brown or black mole with an irregular, shape, border or color.
We all live busy lives, but a skin examination should be an important part of your annual health maintenance. During a typical visit, board certified dermatologist, Dr. Melody Stone, will examine you thoroughly with a dermatoscope. If a suspicious spot is noted, a skin biopsy may be performed and sent to a lab for further testing.
TYPES OF SKIN CANCER
Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the sun’s rays. Skin cancer affects people of all colors and races, although those with light skin who sunburn easily have a higher risk. Types of Skin Cancer:
Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the sun’s rays. Skin cancer affects people of all colors and races, although those with light skin who sunburn easily have a higher risk.
Dry, scaly patches or spots are precancerous growths.
People who get AKs usually have fair skin.
Most people see their first AKs after 40 years of age because AKs tend to develop after years of sun exposure.
AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms.
Because an AK can progress to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), treatment is important.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. This skin cancer usually develops on skin that gets sun exposure, such as on the head, neck, or back of the hands. BCC is especially common on the face, often forming on the nose. While BCC often develops on skin that has had the most sun, BCC can appear on any part of the body, including the trunk, legs, and arms. This type of skin cancer grows slowly. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Treatment is important because BCC can grow wide and deep, destroying skin, tissue, and bone.
BCCs frequently develop in people who have fair skin, yet they can occur in people with darker skin.
BCCs look like a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump or a pinkish patch of skin.
BCCs develop after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.
BCC are common on the head, neck, and arms, yet can form anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, and legs.
Early diagnosis and treatment for BCC is important. BCC can invade the surrounding tissue and grow into the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.
This is the second most common type of skin cancer.
People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC, yet they can develop in darker-skinned people.
SCC often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens.
SCC tend to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, such as the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back. SCC can grow deep in the skin and cause damage and disfigurement. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent this and stop SCC from spreading to other areas of the body.
Melanoma, the most is the deadliest form of skin cancer, characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells. Melanomas may appear on the skin suddenly without warning but also can develop on an existing mole. Melanoma is highly treatable when detected early, but advanced melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, which can result in death. They most frequently appear on the upper back, torso, lower legs, head and neck.
If you notice a mole on your skin, you should follow the ABCDE rule, which outlines the warning signs of melanoma:
Asymmetry: One half does not match the other half.
Border irregularity: The edges are ragged, notched or blurred.
Color: The pigmentation is not uniform. Different shades of tan, brown or black are often present. Dashes of red, white, and blue can add to the mottled appearance.
Diameter: While melanomas are usually greater than 6mm in diameter when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
Evolving: A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
If you notice a new mole, a mole different from others on your skin, or one that changes, itches or bleeds, even if it is smaller than 6mm, you should make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist as soon as possible.
Mohs Surgery (also called Mohs Micrographic Surgery)
Is used to treat skin cancer, this surgery has a unique benefit. During surgery, Dr. Stone (a trained Mohs surgeon) can see where the cancer stops, this isn’t possible with other types of treatment for skin cancer. The ability to see where the cancer stops gives Mohs (pronounced Moes) two important advantages:
Mohs has a high cure rate.
Mohs allows you to keep as much healthy skin as possible because the surgeon only removes the skin with cancer cells. This is especially important when skin cancer develops in an area with little tissue beneath (e.g., eyelid, ear, or hand).
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