Skin Cancer - Diagnosis & Treatment
Early detection of skin cancer plays a critical role in recovery and survival rates.
Skin cancer is defined as the growth of abnormal cells in the outer layer of the skin. A diagnosis of skin cancer means that a person has out-of-control, malignant skin cell growth.
This condition can ultimately be fatal when left untreated or undiagnosed. Skin cancer can grow unchecked and infiltrate other parts of the body.
A comprehensive skin exam with your dermatologist is the first line of defense against skin cancer.
What are the Symptoms of Skin Cancer?
The most common type of cancer, skin cancer, can range from very mild types to those that are life-threatening. Because of this, it's vital to catch it as early as possible.
To do so, you need to know the common symptoms. In most cases, these include:
- Bleeding sore that heals but then returns
- Pearly or waxy bump on skin
- Flat lesion with a scaly, crusted surface
- Mole that changes color or size
- Lesions with irregular borders
Since these symptoms can be associated with various types of skin cancers, it is crucial that you not delay in seeking the advice of your Dermatology Associates of Uptown dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis.
Types of Skin Cancer
If you are unfamiliar with skin cancer, you should realize there are multiple types of skin cancer, some of which are mild while others are quite serious.
The most common types of skin cancer are:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is usually found on sun-exposed areas such as the neck or face. Signs of this cancer include flat lesions that are flesh-colored or have a scar-like appearance, as well as a sore that won't heal or heals and then returns.
Squamous cell carcinoma usually appears on the ears or hands. Characterized by a flat lesion with a scaly and crusty surface, people with darker skin can develop this cancer on areas not often exposed to the sun.
Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, can affect men and women, and be present on any skin tone.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is very complex and can be caused by many different factors. No matter the type, skin cancer is caused by mutations in the DNA of skin cells, leading to them growing out of control -- creating a cancer cell mass.
The main reasons why this occurs are:
- Exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds
- Exposure to toxic substances or radiation
- Having a compromised immune system
Other risk factors include having a large number of moles on your body, having a predisposition to sunburns, or having a family history of skin cancer.
Treatment for Skin Cancer
Treatment results can vary. Your dermatologist at Dermatology Associates of Uptown will advise you as to the appropriate course of treatment based on your individual circumstances and the type of skin cancer that you have.
Due to the seriousness of skin cancer, don't take chances by delaying your diagnosis and treatment. With skin cancer, early detection plays a critical role in recovery and survival.
Never try to diagnose an unusual-looking mole by yourself at home, schedule a consultation with your dermatologist if you have concerns.