According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States, with one in five people having some form of skin cancer. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for more than 76,600 cases of skin cancer in 2013, resulting in roughly 9,000 deaths annually.
“It’s so unfortunate when a patient waits too long to be screened and melanoma is found way too late, as it’s very treatable if found early,” says Justin Platzer, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs skin cancer surgeon at Water’s Edge Dermatology.
Darlene Moore of West Palm Beach, Fla., echoes Dr. Platzer’s sentiment of the importance of diagnosing melanoma early. During a regular skin cancer screening at Water’s Edge Dermatology, Shanna Stone, ARNP, saw a few areas of concern on Ms. Moore’s ear and arm and took biopsies. Ms. Moore was diagnosed with Stage 1 melanoma on her arm and basal cell carcinoma on her ear.
“The basal cell, frankly, I wasn’t as concerned about,” says Ms. Moore. “Dr. Platzer reassured me that Mohs surgery was very effective for basal cell carcinoma and he was able to get it all. But I was really concerned about melanoma, because my brother-in-law died of melanoma.”
Surgery is the best way to remove early melanomas, with later stages usually requiring more extensive treatment, such as radiation and chemotherapy. Mohs surgery saves the greatest amount of healthy tissue, appears to reduce the rate of local recurrence and has the highest overall cure rate — about 94 percent to 99 percent — of any treatment for squamous cell carcinoma. And generally, Mohs surgery is 98 percent or better for basal cell carcinoma, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.
“As the old saying goes, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” says Dr. Platzer. “Say no to tanning beds and always wear sunscreen. And, if you live in sunny Florida, it is critical to have regular skin cancer screenings — and there’s no better time than this month, Skin Cancer Month.”
Many of Water’s Edge Dermatology clinics are open Saturdays and late during the workweek. To make an appointment, visit www.WeDerm.com and fill out the online appointment form, email info@WeDerm.com or call (561) 694-9493 for more information.