Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers with over 3.5 million Americans diagnosed each year. Many skin cancers are caused by excess exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or other sources and can be prevented through education and practicing proper sun safety. New and/or changing, non-healing skin lesions, or moles with uneven color, asymmetric borders, or moles that have recently changed in size should be evaluated in a dermatology office as soon as possible.
The most common type of skin cancer (around 75 percent of skin cancer cases), BCC is rarely life threatening as it tends to grow locally in the skin without spreading to lymph nodes or other sites in the body. However, BCC can grow quite large and deep, causing significant damage especially on the head and neck. Basal cell carcinoma usually occurs in areas of repeated sun exposure and/or sunburns. BCC can occur in individuals as young as early 20s.
The second most common form of skin cancer, SCC can be extremely dangerous especially on the lips, ear, and nose. Unlike BCC, squamous cell carcinoma can spread to adjacent lymph nodes and is responsible for more than 2,500 deaths each year in the U.S.
This type of skin cancer can quickly become invasive, spreading to lymph nodes, liver, lungs and brain; 50 percent of melanomas occur in moles already present on the skin, and 50 percent occur as new lesions often brown or black in color. It can develop on any area of the body including the palms, soles, genitals and under the nails. Early diagnosis and treatment is key to achieving a cure. Thankfully, many melanomas are easily treated when diagnosed early.
The first step in the treatment of skin cancer is to receive a full-body scan from your provider. They will look for signs of moles that show signs of asymmetry, irregular borders, color, diameter and evolution. During your consultation, your dermatologist will biopsy any suspicious lesions by removing a small sample to determine if skin cancer is present, and if so, which type. If skin cancer is detected, a treatment plan is developed to both remove the tumor and prevent recurrence in the future. Different methods of removal are available depending on skin cancer form, size and location.
There are various available medical treatments based on the type of skin cancer. For non-melanoma skin cancers of the head and neck area and large or recurrent tumors on any other part of the body, Mohs Micrographic Surgery is the gold standard for achieving the highest cure rate.
Surgical excision is the mainstay of treatment for malignant melanoma as well as non melanoma skin cancers of the arms, legs and trunk. Other curative options for non melanoma skin cancers include curettage (scraping the skin cancer off the skin) as well as locally injected or topically applied chemotherapy agents.
The team at Advanced Dermatology uses an extensive range of treatment modalities for precancerous skin lesions as well as all types of skin cancer. Once a diagnosis of skin cancer has been made, all appropriate treatment options will be discussed with you to ensure you receive the best possible care.
Early detection saves lives! To schedule your skin cancer screening, please click below.