Have you ever looked at a spot on your skin and asked yourself, “Should I be concerned about that?” Most of us have. At Water’s Edge, we want to help make everyone smarter about skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Early detection is vital. When found early, all forms of skin cancer are highly treatable. Because it’s on the outside of your body, it’s one of the easiest cancers to find, but it can appear anywhere – from your scalp to between your toes and even the bottoms of your feet and under your nails.
The American Academy of Dermatology encourages everyone to conduct regular skin self-exams. That way you can be aware of any changes over time. If possible, have a partner do a skin check with you and help you examine hard-to-see areas like your scalp and back.
What skin cancer looks like
Skin cancer can appear on the body in different ways and can look like:
- A changing mole or mole that appears different from your other moles;
- A dome-shaped growth;
- A scaly patch;
- A non-healing sore or sore that heals and comes back;
- A brown or black streak under a finger or toenail.
Dermatologists sum it up this way. If you notice a spot on your skin that differs from the others, changes, itches, or bleeds, see your dermatologist and get it checked out.
But I don’t feel sick
You can have skin cancer and feel just fine. In fact, most people who find a suspicious spot on their skin or a streak under a nail report that they don’t feel ill. If you notice a suspicious-looking spot, make an appointment with your dermatologist. When found early, skin cancer is highly treatable. If it is given time to grow, treatment can become more difficult.
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are quite common and generally not life-threatening. Often, they can be treated using non-surgical methods such as Electron Beam Therapy. MOHS surgery is sometimes recommended depending on the size and location of the skin cancer.
Melanoma is a more serious type of skin cancer, though when detected early, melanoma is also highly treatable. People with an increased risk of melanoma, including men older than 50, people with more than 50 moles or large or unusual moles, people with fair skin, and those with a history of cancer, should talk to a dermatologist about how often they should schedule a skin exam from their practitioner.
What will the dermatologist do?
When you see your dermatologist for a suspicious spot, your dermatologist will first examine the area. If it looks like it could be skin cancer, your dermatologist will remove all or part of it in order to do a skin biopsy. A biopsy of the suspicious growth is the only way to know if you have skin cancer or not.
The biopsy will be reviewed under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present. If cancer cells are identified, the biopsy report will tell you what type of skin cancer cells were found. From there, your dermatologist can recommend the best treatment for you.
If no cancer cells are found, the biopsy report will explain what was found under the microscope.
Water’s Edge Dermatology recommends that everyone have skin cancer screenings from a board-certified dermatologist, especially in sunny Florida. Schedule an appointment today and enjoy peace of mind. Click here to Request an Appointment or call 877.533.8214.