One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes, but early detection combined with a yearly exam can save lives. Because the sun damage that causes skin cancer is cumulative, it is not only sun worshippers who are at risk but also people exposed to small amounts of sun casually over the years. In fact, just about everyone is at risk. And here in Florida, we get potentially dangerous sun exposure just going to and from the car day after day. People from Southwest Florida cities such as Siesta Key, Lakewood Ranch and Bradenton trust their skin cancer diagnosis and treatment to the knowledgeable providers at SkinSmart Dermatology® in Sarasota.
At SkinSmart Dermatology® we are dedicated to the health of your skin. To find out more about skin cancer, visit our office in Sarasota. Request a consultation with Dr. Elizabeth Callahan, Dr. William Adams or one of our experienced practitioners by calling our office in Sarasota at 941-308-7546.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is often identified as a new or changed growth on the skin of the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands or legs. Although these are common areas for skin-cancer growths to form, they can occur anywhere, and manifest themselves as the following:
- Pearly or waxy bump
- Flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesion
- Firm, red nodule
- Crusted, flat lesion
- Large brown spot with darker speckles
- Shiny, firm bumps
A mole that changes shape or color can also indicate skin cancer.
Diagnosing Skin Cancer
To diagnose skin cancer, a doctor reviews all symptoms, and checks the skin for any unusual growths or abnormal patches of skin. Spotting a cancerous lesion can be difficult. Determining whether a lesion is cancerous is a job best left to our SkinSmart Dermatology providers. As the American Academy of Dermatology observes, even the same type of cancer can look different from person to person. That said, you should not wait to make an appointment with SkinSmart Dermatology if you see something on your skin that exhibits any of the following characteristics and doesn’t resolve itself within two weeks:
- Irregular colors
- Changing shape
If skin cancer is suspected, a biopsy is performed on the growth or area of skin in question. Once the results of the biopsy are reviewed, the type of cancer can be determined, and a treatment plan created. Those who experience any skin changes, or have changes to existing moles or birthmarks, should see a doctor as soon as possible; early detection is key in successfully treating skin cancer.
If you have had skin cancer before, you are at higher risk for a recurrence, so our providers will most likely want to examine you more than once a year. The good news is that skin cancer, when detected and treated early, can be cured. Even melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, has a cure rate of almost 95% when it is caught early.
What Types of Skin Cancer are There?
There are three major types of skin cancer, and they affect different layers of the skin. They are named for the different types of skin cells that become cancerous.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell skin cancer occurs in the basal cell layer of the skin and is the most common type of skin cancer in people with fair skin. It commonly occurs on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, such as the face. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma occurs in the squamous cells, and is the most common type of skin cancer in people with dark skin, who typically get it in places, such as the legs or feet, that have not been exposed to the sun. In people with fair skin, it usually occurs in sun-exposed areas such as on the face, head, ears and neck. Squamous cell skin cancer can spread to other parts of the body.
Melanoma is the most aggressive type of cancer, and the most likely to spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma occurs in the melanocyte (pigment) cells of the skin, and can form on any part of the body, regardless of past sun exposure.
Skin Cancer Treatment
The first line of treatment for skin cancer is surgical removal of the cancerous or precancerous lesion. At SkinSmart Dermatology, we offer Mohs micrographic surgery, an advanced treatment for skin cancer. SkinSmart Dermatology has two fellowship trained Mohs Micrographic Skin Cancer Surgeons on staff. We are currently the ONLY practice from Tampa to Port Charlotte with TWO Mohs surgeons accredited by the American College of Mohs Surgeons on staff.
Mohs surgery offers the highest potential for recovery – up to 95%, even if other forms of treatment have failed. This procedure is the most exact and precise method of tumor removal. It minimizes the chance of regrowth and reduces the potential for scarring or disfigurement.
Treatment for skin cancer depends on the type, size and location of the tumor. Most options include the removal of the entire growth, and are effective forms of treatment. Removal procedures are usually simple, requiring only a local anesthetic in an outpatient setting. Some of the treatment options for skin cancer include the following:
- Laser therapy
- Mohs micrographic surgery
- Electrodessication and curettage
- Topical treatments such as imiquimod
Depending on the stage and severity of the skin cancer, in addition to removal of the growth, chemotherapy and radiation may be recommended.
Of course, surgical skill and experience are critical to a successful outcome. Dr. Callahan supervises all surgical procedures. As fellowship-trained Mohs skin cancer surgeons, Dr. Callahan and Dr. Adams have together performed more than 20,000 Mohs surgeries. Dr. Callahan is consistently recognized as a “Top Doctor” by Castle Connolly and was recently chosen again by her peers as a Top Doctor for 2015.
Prevention of Skin Cancer
Although not every case of skin cancer can be prevented, the best way to avoid it is to protect skin from the sun. Recommendations for preventing skin cancer include the following:
- Limit exposure to the skin, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Always wear sun screen with an SPF of at least 15
- Wear a hat in the sun
- Wear long sleeves and long pants
- Avoid tanning beds and salons
Performing routine self-exams to spot skin changes, and seeing a dermatologist for a full-body screening on a regular basis, is also recommended.
The ABC’s of Skin Cancer
For early detection of Melanoma, follow the ABCDEs of Skin Cancer
Uneven shape or pattern
Outer edges uneven
Dark black or multiple colors
Greater than 6mm
Request a Consultation
We would love to meet with you to discuss your specific goals and concerns. Contact our practice for more information or to schedule your appointment today.