Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of malignant skin cells. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year. People with fair skin, frequent sun exposure, history of sunburns, and a family history of skin cancer are at greatest risk. If detected early, the prognosis is excellent with a 95% cure rate. The key to early detection is for everyone to perform periodic self-examinations and see their Dermatologist regularly. Having a partner help you with this is a good idea.

The most common skin cancers include:

1. Basal cell carcinoma ­ 85% of all skin cancers. Basal cell carcinomas usually occur on sun­ exposed skin of fair skinned people. This includes the head, neck and upper body in fair skinned people. If detected early, it is easily treated with excellent cure rates. However, if neglected for many years, basal cell carcinoma may invade deeply and cause extensive tissue destruction in the muscle and bone or very rarely death.

2. Squamous cell carcinoma – 10% of all skin cancers. Squamous cell carcinomas are also typically found in fair skinned people in sun exposed areas. This type of skin cancer can become invasive and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body without the proper treatment. With early diagnosis and surgical excision, the cure rate is over 95%. Treatments vary depending on the location and type of tumor.

Treatment options include:

  • Mohs Micrographic Surgery
  • Excision
  • Electrodessication and Curettage
  • Cryosurgery with Liquid Nitrogen
  • Topical Creams
  • Levulan® with BLU­Light

3. Melanoma ­ 5% of all skin cancers. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is highly curable when found and treated early. However, it can be deadly if undetected as more than 75% of skin cancer deaths are due to melanoma. 1 in 58 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime. Melanoma may appear suddenly on normal skin or begin within an existing mole. If you see any changes in your existing moles or appearance of a new mole, a Dermatologist must examine it. See the ABCDE’s of melanoma detection below. You can also visit the website skincancer.org.

A-asymmetry, B-border irregularity, C-color (dark, multiple colors), D-diameter (larger lesion), E-evolving

When to see a Dermatologist:

Dermatologists are experts in visually examining the skin to detect skin cancer. A dermatologist should regularly examine everyone who has had skin cancer in the past or risk factors for developing skin cancer.

If a worrisome lesion is found, a biopsy may be necessary to examine it under the microscope. You can be assured that Dr. Myers and her staff will ensure your comfort and address all concerns you may have when visiting our office.


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