Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Prevention and early diagnosis play critical roles in the fight against skin cancer.

The good news is skin cancer can be detected early by knowing your skin and watching for changes. A bump that appears, a spot that bleeds, a mole that changes, a scaling red spot, or an area that is sore to the touch should be brought to the attention of your dermatologist.

Causes: There are many reasons for skin cancer, but it is most commonly due to a history of sunburn and exposure to a lot of sun as a youth. Also at risk are individuals with fair skin, light colored eyes, and freckles and those who have a greater than average number of moles or a family history of skin cancer or melanoma. Individuals with chronic, repeated, or prolonged sun exposure, such as those who reside in warmer climates, work outdoors, engage in outdoor activities (i.e. golf and sailing), and use tanning booths are also at risk of developing skin cancer.

Symptoms: These are the three main types of skin cancer and their symptoms:

 

Basel cell Carcinoma (most common type of skin cancer) may appear as:

  • A dome shaped papule, shiny like a pearl, pink or skin colored, with or without a small red blood vessel.
  • An “acne like” lesion that never goes away.
  • A red scaling red patch.
  • A lesion that bleeds easily.

 

Squamous cell Carcinoma (second most common type of skin cancer) may appear as:

  • Hard, red lump with or without a crusty surface.
  • A red scaling patch.
  • A lesion that bleeds easily.
  • A hard crusted “horn” that grows very rapidly.

 

Melanoma (most serious type of skin cancer) may appear as:

  • Pigment that appears suddenly, grows quickly, or does not look like other moles.
  • A mole that changes size, borders, or grows asymmetrically.
  • A mole that has varied colors, such as brown, black, pink, red, or blue.
  • A mole that bleeds or becomes elevated while turning dark.
  • A streak in a fingernail or toe nail.

 

Treatment: Skin cancer is treatable when detected early and has a high cure rate.

Seek medical attention when suspicious lesions appear or a change in a mole is detected. A total body exam is suggested annually and more frequently in individuals at high risk or with a history of skin cancer. Treatment depends on the type and severity of the skin cancer, which may include but is not limited to, freezing, surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

 

*Results may vary per patient.