Thanks to longer life spans, more leisure time spent outdoors, and the popularity of tanning, we have seen an increasing number of skin cancers in recent years. Skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer if detected early. Our board-certified dermatologists have extensive experience with diagnosing and treating all forms of skin cancer. We understand that a skin cancer diagnosis can be scary, and we’re there every step of the way to offer guidance, sensitivity, and clinically proven treatments.
What to Expect
The screening usually takes 10 minutes or longer if the doctor sees any moles that look unusual. You’ll take off all of your clothes and put on a medical exam gown. Your doctor will ask if you have any moles that concern you. Then, she will then look at every inch of your body — from your face, chest, arms, back and legs to less-visible places like your scalp, between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
YOUR DOCTOR IS CHECKING FOR THE “ABCDEs” OF EACH MOLE, WHICH ARE ALL POSSIBLE SIGNS OF SKIN CANCER
- Asymmetry: Not the same shape on both sides
- Border irregularity: Ragged or blurred edges
- Color: Different shades of tan, brown or black
- Diameter: Larger than 1/4 inch
- Evolving: Changes over time
Your doctor will also check for skin changes caused by sun damage that, without treatment, can turn into cancer.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and, in fact, the most common cancer of any kind. This cancer often looks like a sore spot that doesn’t heal or a clear bump that bleeds easily. Treatment for these lesions may include surgical excision, scraping and burning (a procedure called electrodesiccation and curettage), and, for some early lesions, topical creams.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. It can be more aggressive than basal cell carcinoma and may have the ability to spread to other parts of your body. Some patients, particularly those with weakened immune systems, are particularly at risk for serious complications from squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer may look like a red, scaly bump or lump, often with crusting or bleeding. Most squamous cell carcinomas are treated with surgical removal.
Melanoma is the least common and deadliest form of skin cancer. Although it can occur anywhere on the body, the most common sites are areas of regular, intermittent sun exposure, such as the back, arms, and legs. Treatment for melanoma is dependent on each particular case.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends monthly self-exams for melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.
WHEN PERFORMING THESE EXAMS, BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THE FOLLOWING IRREGULARITIES
A mole that’s different from other moles on your body, which we call an “ugly duckling sign”. Melanoma may be much darker or much larger than your other moles.
Unfamiliar moles. In 75% of cases, melanoma appears as a new mole, while in 25% of cases, an existing mole has changed in size, shape, or color.
Skin cancer often has very general symptoms and can often be mistaken for other skin conditions. If you observe any of the above signs or if you notice any unexplained changes in your skin, we recommend a visit with one of our dermatologists to obtain a certain diagnosis.