Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. It can be caused by sun exposure and the UV rays found in tanning beds, which means you need to take extra precautions to avoid it, especially in Florida. A skin exam should be a regular part of your self-care routine, but here are some reasons why it’s so important to check for skin cancer at home.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is a disease in which cells in the skin grow out of control. Skin cancer is caused by exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning beds. The good thing is that it is almost always treatable if detected early.
Some types are more dangerous than others, but all forms of skin cancer need medical attention if they start to grow. There are three main types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer. It tends to be slow growing and is characterized as a pink, translucent, pearly “pimple” or scaly patch that does not go away. Basal cell carcinomas tend to form on the head and neck. Most basal cell carcinomas do not spread to other parts of the body but they can cause complications if left untreated.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer, though faster growing. It appears as a pink, red, or tan skin spot that may have an irregular shape.
Squamous cell carcinoma is more common on the hands or feet than anywhere else. It can spread to other parts of the body relatively quickly, so early detection is essential.
Malignant melanoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States, and can be fatal if left untreated and not detected early. Malignant melanoma can spread to the lymph nodes, lung, and liver, and all other skin areas if not detected and surgically removed in time.
Malignant melanoma can be characterized by a change in an existing mole or a new mole with irregular pigmentation, variation in color or depigmentation, change in shape or oddly shaped, increase in size or irregular borders. It is recommended to be aware of what you have on your skin presently to be able to detect a possible change in any new or existing mole.
Skin Cancer Self Exam
It’s important to check yourself regularly for any early signs of skin cancer. Check your body once a month during the same time every month. You can mark on your calendar when you should do this so it becomes part of your regular routine.
Look carefully at your entire body for any new spots, moles or other changes. These changes include:
- A new spot or sore that doesn’t heal within a few weeks
- A red or scaly patch
- An itch that doesn’t go away
- A mole with an irregular border and multiple colors
Be aware that skin cancers can show up anywhere on your skin, including your scalp, ears, arms, and legs. Ask a loved one to check your back, scalp or other hard to see areas on your body.
If you detect any changes to your skin, it is essential to schedule an appointment with a trusted dermatologist right away for a full skin assessment.
Treatment Options for Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the U.S., but it is also the most treatable if detected early. At ForCare Medical Center, we provide a variety of treatments to remove skin cancer and reveal fresh, healthy skin.
Mohs surgery is the most precise methods of skin cancer removal. The focused removal of tissue in the area where the cancer is growing minimizes the chance for regrowth and provides minimal scarring. Mohs surgery is useful for recurring skin cancer, areas on the face, hands or feet and skin cancer spots that are large or aggressive.
Superficial Electron Therapy
Mohs surgery is the most precise treatment for skin cancer, but superficial electron therapy has a more cosmetically appealing effect and is less invasive.
Superficial Electron Therapy is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for non-melanoma skin cancer, specifically Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Superficial electron therapy works by damaging the cancerous cells while minimizing any damage to healthy, normal cells without creating any incisions in the skin. The total length of treatment time will be dependent on several factors, such as the size and location of the cancer.
In most cases, treatment can be completed in 10 to 30 sessions, with each session lasting less than five minutes.
Visit ForCare in Tampa, FL, for a Skin Cancer Screening
A skin cancer screening is a visual assessment of your skin by trained professional staff. All areas of the skin are examined from the scalp down to the toes. ForCare’s medical professional team will check for skin cancer and look for any suspicious lesions like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinomas, atypical moles and malignant melanoma. We recommend that everyone have yearly skin cancer screenings with their dermatologist. Request your appointment with our team today.