At Rendon Center for Dermatology and Aesthetic Medicine, your health is always our top priority. Skin cancer is treated with the utmost care, compassion, and, of course, expert skill. We believe that skin cancer detection and treatment are among the most important services we provide.
What Is Skin Cancer Screening?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) often recommends patients consider regular screenings for cancer. Just as patients regularly screen for colon, cervical, and breast cancer, skin cancer screening should be done as well. The benefit of screening for skin cancer at a dermatological clinic is the ability to catch it early enough for simple removal and a much better cure rate.
When you have a full-body check-up, a member of our dermatology team will perform an evaluation. Drawing from our extensive training and years of experience, we can quickly identify those lesions that are cause for concern. Any potentially cancerous lesion will be tested and evaluated by one of our dermatopathology specialists.
Is It Important to Have Regular Skin Cancer Screenings?
Patients in Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach and surrounding areas often ask us, why is it important to have regular skin cancer screenings. Skin cancer screenings are extremely beneficial when it comes to catching and diagnosing skin cancer early enough for effective treatment. Patients of all ages should have skin cancer screenings annually, more often if they are at a higher risk for skin cancer, have had it in the past, or have many moles and skin growths which may be of concern. If patients notice any skin concerns such as changing moles or wounds that do not heal, they are encouraged to contact us for an examination and skin cancer screening. At Rendon Center for Dermatology and Aesthetic Medicine, we provide skin cancer screenings for early diagnosis and effective treatment.
What are the Different Types of Skin Cancer?
There are many types of skin cancer and they all present in different ways, so it is important to have us perform screenings to check for anything abnormal on the skin. We know to look for suspicious moles, skin growth, skin tags, wounds, and scars that may exhibit signs of cancer. If it is determined to be a concern, we may remove a small portion and send it to a pathologist for further examination. This biopsy is done to ensure proper diagnosis.
There are several different types of skin cancer but we tend to see three particular types much more often than the others. These types of skin cancer are named after the cells that become abnormal. They include:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Actinic keratosis, a type of pre-cancerous growth
Additional, far less common types of skin cancer include:
- Sebaceous carcinoma
- Merkel cell carcinoma
- Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP)
There are several different types of skin cancer that fall into one of two categories, melanoma, and non-melanoma. Melanoma is often seen in the form of a mole or birthmark on the body and is the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are non-melanoma. These are rarely life-threatening and can be easily detected and treated. Basal cell carcinoma is known for very slow growth while squamous cell carcinoma is more aggressive and can spread quickly.
It is important for patients to be aware of noncancerous skin growths that have the potential to become cancerous such as actinic keratoses. The lesions appear red and crusty and they may be removed but reappear, typically on skin that has been heavily exposed to the sun.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Numerous studies suggest that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the leading factor that contributes to skin cancer. When the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light, found in the sunshine as well as tanning lamps, the DNA in the skin can sustain damage. This is especially relevant to tanning bed use and sunburns that cause blisters or peeling. DNA is involved in gene expression and cellular development. When the DNA is damaged, the cells may not grow and divide normally. Some of these cells become cancer cells.
How is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?
To diagnose skin cancer, your doctor will begin with a thorough skin cancer screening. This visual examination of your skin may involve the use of a special instrument that magnifies the visual field. If a growth has the characteristics of skin cancer, the doctor will perform a biopsy. This test obtains a sampling of skin cells or tissue that can be examined under a microscope by a trained pathologist. Biopsies can be done in a number of different ways. The most common is to anesthetize the area of study with an injection of numbing medication and then excise a small piece of tissue. Excisional biopsies allow the pathologist to examine multiple layers of the skin. Another way to biopsy a growth is to shave off the uppermost layers of the growth. Finally, a doctor may use a "punch" instrument as another method of obtaining multiple layers of tissue. In some cases, a biopsy may also be done on suspicious lymph nodes.
Your board-certified dermatologist has considerable training in the performance of skin cancer examinations and biopsies. We'll discuss which type of test is most appropriate for you based on the characteristics of your suspicious growth, including its location and size.
What Skin Cancer Treatment is Best for Me?
Several skin cancer treatments may be considered after receiving an accurate diagnosis. Your doctor can walk you through which options may be appropriate based on your case. These include:
- Minor surgical excision
- Mohs micrographic surgery
- Cryotherapy (freezing)
- Curettage and electrodesiccation
- Photodynamic therapy (usually used for precancerous lesions)
- Radiation therapy
You aren't on your own to determine the type of skin cancer treatment that you should choose. Your doctor will likely make recommendations that consider the size, severity, and location of your cancer.
How Can I Reduce My Risk of Getting Skin Cancer?
Reducing the risk of skin cancer is encouraged. The number one way to reduce your risk of getting skin cancer is to avoid excessive sun exposure. Living in beautiful Boca Raton, you may love spending time outdoors. You still can! Just be diligent with the application of broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. Regular use of sunscreen every day, and the avoidance of strong ultraviolet light during midday and late afternoon is suggested whenever possible. Keep in mind that you'll need to reapply sunscreen every few hours if you're spending a day at the beach or another outdoor area. In these instances, it is also wise to wear a hat that shades your ears, face, and neck. Lightweight, long-sleeved clothing can protect your skin, as can lightweight pants, as can finding some shade during the brightest hours of the day.
When it comes to skin cancer, it is important for patients to understand their risks. In most cases, UV exposure is the primary cause of developing cancer on the skin. The UV rays that come from the sun, x-rays, tanning beds, and sunlamps can result in malignant cell mutations. Fair skinned individuals, and those who have had extensive amounts of UV exposure, are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Patients should also be very aware of the moles and lesions on their body, and take note when any of these begin to change in size, shape, or color.
Finally, monthly self-examinations are strongly encouraged by skin cancer specialists. Patients can catch these concerns early with regular skin cancer screenings with a trained professional, during which a dermatologist can examine the entire body from head to toe to check for any skin lesions that may require a biopsy for further evaluation.
How Do I Examine Myself for Skin Cancer?
Your monthly skin checks don't need to be complicated or take much time at all. After your first few, you'll have a better awareness of your skin and the spots or moles that are normal for you. To perform your self-exam, you'll need to completely disrobe. Begin by looking directly at the skin on a body part. It can help to start with your feet (look at the soles and in between your toes, too!) and work your way up from there. If there are areas that you cannot observe directly, use a handheld mirror. For example, to observe the skin on your back, stand with your back to a larger mirror and look at your reflection in a handheld mirror. You may also need to use a handheld mirror to check your scalp and genital area. As you observe your skin, take note of the color of your moles and spots, their color, and their shape. Note if any spots have texture. From month to month, you'll be able to notice if changes occur in any areas. Any spots or moles that look questionable should be examined by your dermatologist.
Skin Cancer Treatment
Skin cancer diagnosis can be scary, but patients are urged to speak with a professional about their condition and determine how it can be treated effectively. In many cases, skin cancer can be removed with a scalpel, but some instances of cancer may require Mohs Micrographic Surgery.
If the lesion is malignant, we provide a customized treatment plan, depending on the type of cancer, as well as its size, shape, and location. We will evaluate your current health and review your medical history to ensure that you receive safe and effective treatment.
The ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer
For early detection of Melanoma, follow the ABCDEs of Skin Cancer
Uneven shape or pattern
Dark black or multiple colors
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Skin Lesion Removal
Many cancerous lesions can be removed in a simple procedure using a scalpel. Because skin cancer typically extends beyond the visible portion, additional tissue is removed. Following surgery, the removed tissue will be sent to our specially trained pathologist for evaluation. If cancerous cells are discovered in the borders, a second procedure will be needed. If the borders are clear, the process is complete.
Contact the Rendon Center for Dermatology and Aesthetic Medicine at 561-750-0544 to schedule your skin cancer screening today.