Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Facts

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers; basal cell and squamous cell cancers affect more than one million Americans each year and the number is rising. Because ultraviolet light can damage DNA, exposing the skin to sunlight increases the risk for an individual to develop skin cancer. Skin type is a very important factor in the development of skin cancer. Fair-skinned individuals who tend to burn easily and tan poorly are at the greatest risk while dark skinned people are at a reduced risk.

What are the signs of cancer?

A change on the skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This may be a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in an old growth. Not all skin cancers look the same and you should inspect your skin periodically and become familiar with all spots and moles and pay special attention to their sizes, shapes, edges, and color.

Some of the skin changes to watch for are:

  • A skin growth that bleeds spontaneously or with minimal trauma.
  • A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, irregular, brown, black, or multicolored.
  • A mole or birthmark that changes in color or texture, bleeds, or increases in size or thickness.
  • A spot or growth that continues to itch, hurt, crust, erode, or bleed.
  • An open sore or wound on the skin that lasts for four weeks and does not heal.
  • A sore that heals and then reopens.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment for a checkup with your dermatologist. Most basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers can be cured if found and treated early.

A formula has been created to help you remember how to detect cancer.

The ABCDE’s of cancer are:

  • Asymmetry: Most melanomas are asymmetrical; a line through the middle would not create matching halves. Common moles are round and symmetrical.
  • Border Irregularity: The borders of melanomas are often uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges. Common moles have smoother more even borders.
  • Color Variability: Varied shades of brown, tan, or black are often the first sign of Melanoma. As melanomas progress, the colors red, white, and blue may appear. Common moles are usually a single shade of brown.
  • Diameter: Early melanomas tend to grow larger than common moles; generally to at least the size of a pencil eraser (6mm) but they can be smaller.
  • Evolving: Any evolution or change in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or a new symptom such as bleeding, itching, or crusting points to danger.

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 1 million new cases of skin cancer this year. When diagnosed and treated early, they are 95% curable. Malignant Melanoma is more serious as it has a propensity to metastasize to other areas of the body. To reduce your risk of skin cancer, it is important to minimize sun exposure, wear sun protection daily, and have full body skin examinations yearly to recognize the signs and symptoms of skin cancer.
A dermatology biopsy is the only way to correctly diagnose skin cancer. The biopsy results will help your dermatologist make a diagnosis and plan your treatment. If your biopsy shows that you have cancer, your dermatologist will need to know the extent or stage of your disease. The stage is based on the size of the growth, how deeply it has grown beneath the top layer of skin, and whether it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or to other parts of the body.

Dr. Neda Black Shows How You Can Spot the Signs of Melanomas

Treatment Options for Skin Cancer

It is very difficult to deal with the emotions that flood our minds after we have been diagnosed with skin cancer. It is important however to stay calm and clear our minds so we can learn what to do and the best way to take care of it. At Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena, we can help you through this difficult process and together we can determine what treatment procedure is best for you. Most skin cancers, even malignant melanoma, can be cured if discovered early enough. This is why attention to symptoms and regular self-examination is highly recommended. When cancers of the skin are discovered early, there are a variety of treatment possibilities.

Sometimes all of the cancer is removed during the biopsy and in this case, you will not need further treatment. Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type and stage of your disease, the size and place of growth, and your general health and medical history. In most cases, the aim of treatment is to remove or destroy the cancer completely.

Some of the options available to treat your skin cancer are:

  • Radiation Therapy
  • Topical Immuno-Modulating Agents
  • Topical Chemotherapy
  • Freezing
  • Electrodessication and Curettage
  • Skin Cancer Surgery
  • Cryosurgery
  • Laser Surgery
  • Excisional Surgery
  • Mohs Surgery

The best way to protect yourself from future skin cancers is to make a serious attempt at reducing the amount of sunlight you are exposed to. You don’t have to change your entire lifestyle but you should alter it intelligently and take the proper precautions. An unfortunate statistic is that 50% of people who develop a skin cancer will develop skin cancer again within five years.

Call Comprehensive Dermatology Center of Pasadena today for an examination of your skin or to consult with us if you have been diagnosed with skin cancer.

Our skin is the body’s largest organ. It protects us against heat, light, injury, and infection. It helps control our body temperature and it stores water and fat. Our skin is good to us so we need return the favor by checking our skin regularly. Once you learn what is normal for you, if you find anything unusual you should call your dermatologist and set up an appointment right away. The World Health Organization estimates that over 65,000 people die each year from skin cancer. To keep that from happening to you, take care of your skin and it will take care of you.


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