Dermatologist Screenings In Delray Beach
As the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US, more people each year are told they have skin cancer than are diagnosed with all other cancers combined. It’s a startling statistic – one that should encourage everyone to take skin cancer prevention seriously. That’s because skin cancer is also one of the most preventable cancers.
Skin cancer, or abnormal growths on the skin, typically develops in areas exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds. It occurs after years of cumulative exposure, or after severe, blistering sunburns during childhood or adolescence. Less common causes of skin cancer include repeated exposure to X-rays, certain workplace chemicals, or the presence of scar tissue.
Anyone can get skin cancer, including people of all races and colors, although those with lighter skin have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Types of Skin Cancer
The most common types of skin cancer are:
Actinic keratoses are precancerous spots that appear as dry, scaly patches on the skin. They can develop into squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated.
The vast majority of skin cancers diagnosed every year is basal cell carcinoma. This type of skin cancer develops in the basal cells located near the bottom of the epidermis (outermost layer of skin). BCC grows slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Lesions may appear as flesh-colored or pearly bumps on the skin.
Squamous cell carcinoma, the second-most common type of skin cancer, may look like a sore that doesn’t heal, a red lump, or a scaly growth that bleeds or develops a crust. SCC spreads beyond its original location more often than basal cell carcinoma does. It is the most common type of skin cancer among African-Americans and East Indians.
Collectively, basal and squamous cell cancers are sometimes referred to as keratinocyte carcinoma (KC) because the cancer begins in keratinocyte skin cells, although together they are more commonly called nonmelanoma skin cancer.
BCC and SCC are commonly grouped under the heading of “nonmelanoma” because, despite their prevalence, they are not nearly as invasive or deadly as melanoma is. The vast majority of skin cancer deaths are the result of melanoma
Less common but far more serious than either basal or squamous skin cancers, melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer. A person’s risk of developing melanoma increases with age, although young adults may be particularly susceptible to melanoma after intense, blistering sunburns.
The following ABCDE warning signs of melanoma are an easy way to remember what to look for when performing a self-check of moles on your body:
A = Asymmetry
B = Border irregularity
C = Color variations
D = Diameter of 6mm or larger (the size of a pencil eraser)
E = Evolving appearance
Diagnosis and Treatment of Skin Cancer
Skin screenings are the primary way skin cancers are identified and diagnosed. Early detection of skin cancer requires a dermatologist to visually examine the skin for abnormalities such as moles that are asymmetrical, have irregular borders, contain a variety colors, or are large in size. Biopsies are usually taken during the screening to test for cancer.
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, excising the cancerous growth is usually the first line of treatment. This can be done in a number of ways, including via surgical knife, burning (cauterization), freezing (cryotherapy), dermabrasion, photodynamic therapy (PDT), or tissue scraping followed by killing any remaining cancer cells with an electric needle (called curettage and electrodesiccation). Additional treatment approaches may include prescription creams, traditional radiation, and/or chemotherapy. We can provide a referral should you require Mohs surgery.
The method chosen to remove the skin cancer will depend on the type, size, and location of your skin cancer.
Preventing Skin Cancer
Skin cancer prevention typically revolves around minimizing your exposure to harmful UV rays and includes actions such as:
- Wearing protective clothing such as hats, sunglasses, and light long-sleeved shirts when in the sun
- Using broad-spectrum sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher and reapplying when appropriate
- Avoiding being in the sun between 10 am – 2 pm, when the sun’s rays are the strongest
- Avoiding tanning beds
- Seeing a dermatologist if you notice skin irregularities
- Having regular preventive skin screenings
Many people believe the natural glow of a tan indicates good health when, really, the opposite is true: tanned skin is evidence that your skin is damaged. Consult your dermatologist for safe, topical alternatives for a healthy, tanned appearance.