Skin Cancer, Precancerous Lesions, and Melanoma
Currently, it is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often develops in areas that are frequently exposed to the Sun’s ultraviolet rays, but can occur anywhere on the body.
Actinic Keratoses (AK)
Actinic keratoses are the result of a lifetime of sun exposure. They generally appear as dry, scaly patches or spots that come and go but never completely resolve. They are considered to be pre-cancerous, but early treatment of AKs can clear them and thus prevent them from developing into skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It typically appears as a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump or a pinkish patch of skin that doesn’t heal. If left untreated, it can invade the deeper tissue in the surrounding area and cause disfigurement.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. It may appear as a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens. They have also been described as being horn like. Untreated AKs can progress into this type of skin cancer. As with Basal cell carcinoma, it can invade the deeper tissue in the surrounding area and cause disfigurement. If left untreated, there is a chance that SCC may spread to other areas.
Melanoma is the most life threating form of skin cancer. It can develop in pre-existing moles but often presents suddenly as a new spot. They are usually darkly pigmented but sometimes can be flesh colored or pinkish. Because there can be such variations in the appearance of a Melanoma, it is important to know your moles and to be vigilant about any changes or new spots. Early detection of melanoma is critical to its successful treatment. To learn about the AAD’s ABCDEs of melanoma, Click Here. https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/learn-about-skin-cancer/detect/what-to-look-for.
Skin Cancer Prevention
- Apply and reapply sunscreen.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible.
- Lots of companies now produce comfortable SPF clothing.
- Don’t use tanning beds! Try a sunless tanner.
- Self-check for suspicious spots and know your moles.
- See your Dermatology Provider regularly. Frequently they detect a skin cancer that was not noticed.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
Before any treatment, a provider must examine any lesions in question and determine the best course of action. In some cases, a biopsy is required to verify the cellular nature of a lesion and confirm a diagnosis. In these cases, a small portion of the tissue will be removed and sent to an outside laboratory. Results are typically received within 7 days, after which our pathology coordinator will make contact to discuss treatment options.
Treatment options include but are not limited to:
- Topical Chemotherapy
- Photodynamic Therapy
- Referral for Moh’s Surgery
Moles & Birthmarks
Moles and birthmarks are benign pigmented spots or patches on the skin. They can appear at any age and vary dramatically in color. Most moles and birthmarks are harmless, but some do develop into skin cancer.
Know your ABCDE’s. A mole that exhibits any of the following warning signs should be examined by a dermatology provider.
- A = Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not look like the other.
- B = Border: Not smooth or seems to blur or project out.
- C = Color: Not uniform tan, brown, or pink.
- D = Diameter: Larger than six millimeters or the size of a pencil eraser.
- E = Evolving: Any change in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait. Any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting.
If you have concerns about your moles, or if you feel that one “doesn’t seem quite right”, that is a reason to come in for a skin check. We always tell our patients that we would rather check a spot and tell you it is fine and relieve your worries than have you ignore something that requires timely attention and treatment. Early detection of skin cancer saves lives.
On the other hand, if you develop growths or moles that you know are benign, but for whatever reason they are bothersome and you would like them removed, we are happy to provide this service to you as well. First, we must evaluate the growths in question to determine what they are and the best way to safely remove them. This evaluation is done as an office visit and may be covered by insurance. However, the actual removal of benign growths is typically NOT covered by insurance. When considering such treatment, it is important to understand that there is no way to prevent the return of treated moles or the growth of new moles. Depending on the type of benign growth being removed, periodic treatment of new and recurrent lesions may be required. Some lesions commonly managed in this way are skin tags, seborrheic keratosis, small cherry hemangiomas, and syringomas.
Seborrheic Keratosis (SKs)
Seborrheic Keratosis’ (SKs), also known as age spots, can appear anywhere on the body and are considered to be benign growths. Unfortunately, sometimes SKs can mimic precancerous lesions and skin cancers. The team at Central Florida Dermatology Associates can perform a comprehensive exam and determine the best treatment options for these growths.