You may have heard that it’s important to check your skin and keep an eye on moles so you can notice any changes that might indicate the early signs of skin cancer. But when was the last time you actually took the time to examine all the moles and spots on your body?
If you don’t do a regular skin exam, you’re not alone. It’s a good habit to get into, but only about half of all skin cancers are discovered during a self-exam. That’s why it’s so important to schedule an appointment with Alpine Dermatology Clinic for a thorough skin examination. Like most types of cancer, early detection is essential for optimal treatment.
The 2 most common types of skin cancer, basal cell, and squamous cell carcinoma, develop after years of unprotected exposure to sunlight. This list gives you a rundown of the types of skin cancer and their appearance:
Actinic keratosis: These dry, scaly patches also develop from too much sun exposure. They’re precancerous growths that can become squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of skin cancer, which develops from years of sun exposure. It looks like a flesh-colored, pearl-sized bump or a pink patch of skin. Basal cell carcinoma commonly invades surrounding tissues, including nerves and bones, so early diagnosis is vital.
Squamous cell carcinoma: This cancer is the second most common type of skin cancer. It often develops from actinic keratosis in areas of skin often exposed to sunlight. It may appear as a red firm bump, a scaly patch, or a sore that heals then reappears. Squamous cell carcinoma grows deep into the skin, but early treatment can stop it from spreading.
Melanoma: This is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanoma usually develops from moles, but it may appear as a new dark spot. Watch for moles that develop irregular borders and color variations.
Dr. Marshall is trained in the most advanced and effective technique for removing skin cancer – Mohs surgery. This is a precise surgical technique that progressively removes thin layers of skin until all the cancer is gone. Using this method, Dr. Marshall can remove the skin cancer while sparing healthy skin.
Mohs surgery is performed in the office using a local anesthetic. After all the cancer is removed, the doctor can determine the extent of the wound and decide whether it will need stitches or is small enough to heal on its own. If necessary, he can cover the wound with a skin graft, but if cancer spreads deep into the skin you may need reconstructive surgery.