Skin Cancer Repair
Skin cancer makes up half of all newly diagnosed cancers, with over one million new cases appearing each year in the United States alone. Skin cancers result from exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun’s rays and tanning facilities. In addition, some people may be genetically vulnerable to developing melanoma, a very serious form of skin cancer that can spread to other areas of the body.
Changes in the skin are the basic warning signs of skin cancer, including moles that change in appearance; or new moles, bumps and growths that appear on previously clear skin. It is important to self-examine your skin every 3-6 months in order to take note of any changes in your skin or new growths that would otherwise go unnoticed. Also, a yearly full body exam by one of our expert dermatologists is highly recommended.
A skin self-check is an easy way to detect the early stages of skin cancer. In order to perform a skin self-check, you need only have bright lighting, a full-length mirror, a hand mirror, and two chairs. You may also want to use a blow-dryer to check your scalp area. It is important to examine every area of your body for changes in your skin. The hand-held mirror may be used to examine your back areas from head to toes. You should sit and check over your feet, including the soles of the feet. Use the chairs to prop up your feet so you can see all angles of your legs. Don't forget areas like fingernails, elbows, under breasts, and heels. Remember that skin changes and new growth, however minor they may appear, should be inspected by your dermatologist.
Should you find any of the following changes in an existing mole, notify your dermatologist:
Asymmetry – a line drawn through the middle would not show matching halves.
Border Irregularities – uneven, scalloped or notched edges.
Color Variations – varied shades of brown, tan, or black that may progress to red, blue, or white.
Diameter Irregularities – regular moles should be no larger than the size of a pencil eraser.
In addition, existing moles should be checked regularly for the following changes: sudden growth or spreading to surrounding tissue; rapid elevation of a previously flat mole; irritation, swelling or redness of a mole’s surrounding tissue; scaliness, crusting, oozing, or bleeding from a previously smooth mole; and tenderness, pain, or itching due to a mole.
Because it is important to detect skin cancer in its earliest stages for treatment and recovery to be most successful, you should see a Dermatologist, the physician who is the best trained to recognize skin cancer’s subtle early warning signs. Once skin cancer has been diagnosed, treatment options vary according to the type and progression of the cancer and its location on the body. The physicians of Affiliated Dermatology specialize in various treatment options for each type of skin cancer.
Treatment is dependent on the type of skin cancer, its size/thickness, and its location. To learn more about treatment and aesthetic repair, please follow the links below.
Mohs Surgery & Aesthetic Repair - Other Treatments
Types of Skin Cancers
Two of the most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas have a better than 95% cure rate if found and treated early. Basal cell carcinoma is most often found on the head and neck, particularly the exposed areas of the nose and ears. Complete removal of these tumors is usually curative.
Basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads throughout the body, but it does destroy tissue surrounding the cancerous area. It will continue to grow locally if left untreated, and may invade muscles and bones near the site.
Squamous cell carcinoma is usually found on the face, arms, and legs since it is the result of sun exposure. In the central facial area, it can spread quickly, so early removal is key. Anyone diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma is prone to develop another skin cancer in the years ahead… this makes a yearly skin exam vital to good health.
Malignant melanoma is the most serious form of the skin cancer because it spreads to the body’s organs and can result in death. The result of pigment-producing tanning cells growing uncontrollably, melanoma may appear without warning, and may develop from or near an existing mole. In many cases, melanomas form on the upper backs of men and women, and on the legs of women, but they can be found anywhere on the body including the head and neck.
Over 51,000 new cases of malignant melanoma are diagnosed each year, and the rate is continuing to increase. It is the most common cancer found in women between 25 and 29 years of age. This year malignant melanoma will take the lives of nearly 10,000 people; two-thirds will be men, and one-third will be women.
Regular skin checks are the best way to discover malignant melanoma. Surgical removal can cure the disease in most cases of thin melanomas that have been detected early and are located on the top layer of skin only. There is a direct correlation between the thickness of the melanoma and survival rate. Treatment options for melanoma will vary depending on how much it has spread.
Sometimes, precancerous sites are found and should be removed before they become cancerous. These sites, called actinic keratoses, consist of atypical cells resulting from years of sun exposure. The cells may develop into an invasive skin cancer and require removal to prevent cancer from forming. It is important for those with actinic keratosis to have annual skin exams to make certain that previous sites have been treated completely and no new sites have developed.