Skin Cancer


The result of overexposure to the sun, environmental toxins, and DNA mutations causes changes in the appearance of the skin and puts you at risk for developing potentially life-threatening skin cancer spots. Lack of information surrounding the condition of skin cancer has led to an unfortunate number of deaths in the United States.

Almost completely preventable and curable, skin cancer is still overlooked by many as a medical threat. Sun or actinic damage causes early changes in the skin that can forewarn the development of skin cancers, and many precancerous skin spots are found on patients during these visits. If you have noticed an area of skin that is changing colors or morphing or have a common mole that seems to be changing over time, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist immediately.

There are many different types of skin cancer, but Basal cell carcinomas are the most common form. They are frequently seen on sun-exposed areas of the skin including the face. In most instances, they are curable.

Squamous cell carcinomas are frequently seen developing from pre-cancerous spots on the skin. These are treatable and in many cases, preventable. Once found, they must be removed surgically and do have a small but serious, chance of recurrence.

Malignant melanomas are the most dangerous form of skin cancers. These are usually moles that are dark, black and growing with irregular borders and relentless growth patterns. The cause of malignant melanomas can be both genetic and environmental, as they are aggravated by sunlight. The best treatment for malignant melanomas is early detection and complete surgical removal. There are new experimental methods of vaccination that look promising towards treating patients who have had malignant melanomas that have spread. However, no treatment is better than early detection and surgical removal.

The prevention of skin cancer starts with knowing your ABCDEs and being aware of your melanoma family history.

  • A for asymmetry; look for moles or pigmented spots where one half is unlike the other.
  • B is for border; irregular, scalloped or poorly circumscribed borders should be checked by a dermatologist immediately.
  • C is for color; if color is varied from one area to another, this is a reason for concern
  • D is for diameter; while melanomas are usually greater than 6mm in diameter when diagnosed, they can be smaller.
  • E is for evolving; if you notice a mole different from others, or which changes, itches, or bleeds, you should see a dermatologist.

It is important to limited sun exposure, wear protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and always use sunscreen liberally and frequently.