No one plans to get skin cancer. Like with most other serious conditions, we go through life never really giving much thought to our skin and what’s happening to it. This is why the American Cancer Society heavily promotes Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month every May.
Important skin cancer facts
- While skin cancers usually appear in a localized area (as in a spot or a mole), they are capable of spreading to other areas of the body
- Skin cancers can be present for long periods of time without any associated pain
- More than 90 percent of skin cancers are the result of exposure to the ultraviolet radiation of the sun
- Fair-skinned individuals and those with immune systems compromised because of disease are at greater risk for skin cancer
- The only way skin cancer can be accurately diagnosed is through a biopsy performed by a trained healthcare provider
The untrained naked eye may give a cursory glance to a new spot or two on the arms or a weird mole on the forehead and think it’s all just a sign of aging. A dermatologist skilled in diagnostics might look at those same growths and spot the beginning stages of skin cancer.
Because this condition can strike anyone (even those who don’t spend huge amounts of time out in the sun), the only way to prevent it – or catch it before a serious problem exists – is through annual skin checks.
Types of skin cancer: melanoma, BCC & SCC
The majority of skin cancers that affect the one million-plus people in the U.S. diagnosed with some form of the disease are known as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). These are malignant cancers, but they typically don’t spread to other areas of the body. They can, however, result in disfigurement if not treated in a timely fashion.
The type of skin cancer that’s the biggest concern is called melanoma, an aggressive strain of the disease characterized by metastasis (spreading within the body). If left untreated, melanoma can be fatal. Fortunately, far fewer individuals develop melanoma than the other two afore-mentioned cancers.
Skin cancer cases typically begin with some sort of skin lesion, which isn’t cancerous at first, but could become cancer. Making self-detection complicated, Nature has seen fit to materialize all sorts of spots and skin irregularities on the human body, and most of these are completely benign and will stay that way through the person’s life. Other skin changes are danger signals.
Treatments for skin cancer
A variety of treatments exist for this condition. Among the most effective is Mohs surgery. This type of surgery is ideal for cancers in areas such as the scalp, lips, ears and nose. Mohs surgery is also a choice treatment for recurring cancers and cancerous conditions that are particularly large and difficult to eradicate.
In most cases, prompt detection and treatment can solve the problem, particularly with BCC and SCC cancers. If no treatment is sought, any type of cancer could turn into a life-threatening condition.
DermSurgery Associates of Houston encourages adults to come in for an annual skin check. It’s quick and painless, and it can detect skin issues before they become serious.
Remember that only a licensed professional is able to diagnose skin cancer and recommend the best corrective treatment. Do not attempt to determine on your own if an unusual spot, mole or other skin blemish is cancer. Remember also that May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, to see a qualified dermatologist for a thorough screening.
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DermSurgery Associates is a Greater Houston area dermatology practice offering cosmetic, surgical and non-invasive dermatology treatments and procedures with industry-leading physicians trained and experienced with the most current dermatology technologies and procedures. For more information, contact
7515 Main, Suite 240
Houston, TX 77030