Skin Cancer Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Gardner Dermatology specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. Symptoms of skin cancer may vary which is why it is important to see a dermatologist when you notice a new growth or changes in existing moles on the skin. When skin cancer is caught early and removed it has a high cure rate. With melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, early detection can save lives. You should see a dermatologist if you notice a mole, spot or growth on the skin that:
- Itches or bleeds
- Changes shape
Basil Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. People who have been in the sun a lot and have other signs of sun damage on their skin. It is often slow growing and seen on the scalp, face, neck, hands and arms but could show up in areas where there has not been much sun exposure at all. Basal cell, like all skin cancers, does not always look the same from person to person. The appearance of basal cell carcinoma can vary greatly, but here are some possible signs that you may need to see a dermatologist to rule it out:
- Dry, red patch of skin that doesn’t get better
- A pink, red or brown flesh-colored round lump
- A spot that looks like a pimple but doesn’t get better or heal
- Spot or sore that bleeds, goes away but then returns in same spot
- Scar that feels waxy — may be skin-colored, white, or yellow
- Group of shiny pink or red spots that look like sores, often scaly and bleed easily
- Flat or sunken growth — feels hard, may be white or yellow
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is usually a reddish color and is also a very common form of skin cancer. Although this type of skin cancer is typically found on skin that has had a lot of sun, it is also found on areas that have been badly burned or had a lot of exposure to radiation or strong chemicals. Squamous cell is dangerous if left untreated because it can grow deep in the skin and spread. Signs of squamous cell carcinoma may include:
- Hard (scaly or crusty) reddish bump, patch, or pearl-shaped growth
- Open sore that itches and bleeds; it can heal and return
- Scaly patch on the lip; skin on the lip can get thick
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and is the leading cause of death in skin disease. This cancer starts in the melanocytes, (pigment producing cells of your skin), and can spread quickly to lymph nodes or other organs in the body which can be deadly. Melanoma can often be seen on the skin which makes early detection easier than with many other types of cancer. Detecting and treating melanoma early can save a person’s life.
To help catch melanoma early, you should check your skin regularly so that you notice any changes in moles or new growths on the skin. A tool commonly given to help educate the public on melanoma signs and symptoms is called: the ABCDEs of melanoma. The ABCDEs of melanoma are things that you should look for when you are examining your skin:
- A= Asymmetry (one half is unlike the other)
- B= Border (irregular or poorly defined border)
- C= Color (Is varied from one area to another; has shades of tan, brown or black, or is sometimes white, red, or blue.)
- D= Diameter (Melanoma is usually greater than 6mm (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, but they can be smaller.)
- E= Evolving (A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.)
There are different types of melanoma and not all will show up in moles. Melanoma can also appear under a fingernail or toenail as a black spot or streak, can look like a bruise that does not heal or may not show any signs or symptoms at all.
It is important to notice changes in your skin and changes in spots, growths or moles and to get them checked by a dermatologist. Regular skin examinations are extremely important and can save a life. Skin cancer can be caused by UV exposure, whether artificial or natural but there is also a genetic factor as well. It is possible to get skin cancer in areas that have had zero to little sun exposure. Skin cancer can show up in areas that you may not think to check. It can be found in areas that are not exposed to the sun such as the genitals, bottoms of feet, palms of hands, in between toes or fingers, under a nail or on the scalp.
Prevention of skin cancer involves good sun safety habits and knowing the signs and symptoms to look for so that you can catch it before it becomes cancerous or before it spreads to other areas or organs in the body. Gardner Dermatology & Med Spa believes in and educates patients on good sun safety habits. Using a daily sunscreen with high UVA/UVB protection, antioxidants and regular skin exams are all important and may help reduce your risk of skin cancer.
If you think you may have skin cancer or have any of the signs or symptoms above and need to see a dermatologist, call Gardner Dermatology to schedule an appointment or a skin cancer screening today. If you have skin cancer and need a specialist for treatment of the cancer, call for more information and to get started on a treatment quickly. Same week appointments available.
Disclaimer: Individual results may vary from patient to patient and there is no guarantee of specific results.