Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States!
As the most widely diagnosed cancer in the United States, skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells that occur when unrepaired damage triggers genetic defects that can lead to malignant tumors. Though it is the most common form of cancer, it is also one of the most treatable forms–not to mention the most easily detectable.
Who is most susceptible to skin cancer?
- Have fair skin and red or blond hair
- Have blue, green or light-colored eyes
- Have a history of sunburning easily
- Have many moles, freckles or birthmarks
- Spend a lot of time outdoors
- Spent a lot of time in the sun as a child
- Have had a serious sunburn in the past
- Have family members who have skin cancer
- Use a sunlamp or tanning booth
Some signs you may have skin cancer?
Although skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, it is the most easily recognized and treatable. Following the ABCDE Rule, you can easily detect the possibility. The ABCDE Rule is as follows:
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- Asymmetry: if a lesion does not look the same on both sides if it were divided in half
- Border: if the edges are blurry or jagged
- Color: any changes in color or if there are multiple colors within a lesion
- Diameter: if the lesion is larger than ¼” in diameter
- Elevation: If the lesion is raised above the skin and has an uneven surface
Be sure to watch for any changes in moles you already have or if any new ones appear. Because most appear by age thirty, if a new one appears after that, it is important to watch it and bring it to the attention of a physician.
Are there different types of skin cancer?
There are three types of skin cancer, each of which is named for the type of cells that become malignant. They are:
Basal Cell Carcinoma. Usually occurring on places that have been in the sun the most, such as the face, basal cell skin cancer begins in the basal cell layer of the skin. It is the most common type of skin cancer in people with fair skin. Signs to watch for are:
- A patch or reddish dry skin that does not go away
- A flesh-colored, pearl-shaped lump
- A pimple that does not heal
- A sore that continues to come back
- A scar that has a waxy feel
- A group of slow-growing, shiny pink or red growths
- A flat or sunken growth
Squamous Cell Carcinoma. This type of skin cancer occurs in the squamous cells of the skin. While it is usually detected in areas exposed to the skin, it also appears in less exposed areas like the inside of the mouth and even areas that have been badly burned or exposed to chemicals. Signs of squamous cell carcinoma include:
- A hard (scaly or crusty) reddish bump, patch, or pearl-shaped growth
- An open sore that itches, bleeds, heals and returns
- A scaly patch on the lip
Melanoma. The most serious form of skin cancer is melanoma. This form can be successfully treated if recognized early, but can also be deadly if left untreated and allowed to spread to other parts of the body. The most common signs and symptoms include:
- A mole on the skin that continues to grow and change shape or color
- A mole that looks scaly, oozes, or bleeds
- A new dark spot on the skin that resembles a mole but changes quickly
- Pain, itching, or bleeding in a new spot on the skin
- A brown or black streak underneath a fingernail or toenail
- A bruise on the foot that does not heal
How is skin cancer treated?
We cannot stress enough that early detection makes skin cancer one of the most treatable forms of cancer. Treatment depends on the form of skin cancer you have.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment. There are several factors that affect what type of treatment we recommend to treat your basal cell carcinoma. Most often, this type of skin cancer is treated with an electrodessication and curettage (ED&C), where the dermatologist removes the surface of the skin then “burns” the base of the basal cell carcinoma with an electric needle. Treatments such as freezing, topical creams and medications are sometimes recommended although medications are only suggested for more advanced cases.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment. There are several options to treat squamous cell carcinoma including surgery, topical medications or laser therapy. With surgery, electrodessication and curettage, and surgical excision is typically performed. For more advanced cases, a doctor may recommend laser therapy and photodynamic therapy.
Melanoma Treatment. Treatment options for melanoma are determined by the extent of the skin cancer – the earlier the detection, the better. Most often, cancerous cells are removed surgically if the melanoma is detected early enough. For those in the later stages, our doctors may recommend surgery along with the removal of area lymph nodes, chemotherapy, biological therapy and targeted therapy.
How do I know which treatment is best?
To determine which course of action to take, our skilled physicians will take a biopsy of the potential skin cancer to determine with type of cancer it is. From there, they will determine which treatments will best treat your skin cancer.
What is the cost of skin cancer treatments in Boca Raton and West Palm Beach, FL?
The costs of treating skin cancer vary depending on the diagnosis of the type. Our staff is happy to help you determine if health insurance covers part or all of the costs. Additionally, we can help you with financing options to find the plan that is best for you and your budget.
What if you notice something suspicious on your body?
The first thing you need to do if you notice something suspicious on your body is to set up an appointment at our office for an evaluation of the mole or mark, as well as a full body check to look for anything else that may be of concern. Again, early detection is the most effective treatment of skin cancer.
Medical Dermatology Treatments Available:
The physicians and staff at Sanctuary Medical Center in Boca Raton provide personalized care for all our Cosmetic Laser Dermatology patients. We use the most advanced technologies in dermatology to help our patients maintain optimum skin health and restore self-confidence by revitalizing their appearance. To receive more information or schedule a consultation, give us a call at 561.886.0970 to speak with our friendly staff.