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Get the Facts on Skin Cancer and How to Treat It

No one likes to even think about the chances of having cancer. We’d all prefer it to be this remote possibility even if we are presenting what could be the early signs of it. Of course we want to focus on the relative rarity of it. Often, the symptoms you read about could be the symptoms of a hundred different things. You can breathe a sigh of relief because it usually is those different and more benign conditions. But, it is unfortunately sometimes cancer so you owe it to yourself to get that odd symptom checked out. This is especially true of skin cancer.

You should be undergoing a skin cancer screening every year. This is really more of a full body skin exam to check for everything, but the goal is to find early signs of cancer if they are present. The best skin cancer treatment is early intervention. But if you’re not going for regular checkups, you may not even know that you may have an issue. It’s important to get the facts on skin cancer because it’s not as rare as you think. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Here is what you should know.

The different kinds of skin cancer

While skin cancer is an umbrella term that everyone recognizes, there are actually three main types. They are Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma gets a lot of the press because it’s the most serious. But, it’s also the most rare. Here are some numbers you should be aware of. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. In fact, nearly 50% of Americans over the age of 65 have had either a basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once. One in five Americans will develop one kind of skin cancer over the course of their lifetimes. It is the most common kind of cancer.

What to look for

Only your dermatologist can identify skin cancer, but there are some things to keep an eye out for. The most telltale signs usually involve a growth of some kind that wasn’t there before or a mole that has visibly changed in appearance. Many times it may just end up being a wart, but it’s important to actually confirm that. Generally, moles that become darker, more jagged in appearance, or become raised should get checked by your dermatologist.

One of the key benefits of seeing your dermatologist regularly for a skin screening is that there will be a record of any moles or markings on your body. These records can be compared against your body when you come in for your most recent examination. This is the best way to stay on top of moles that you may think have changed in appearance since the last examination.

Causes

Not every skin cancer has one identifiable cause. However, we know for a fact that the overwhelming cause of skin cancer is exposure to UV rays. 90% of skin cancer diagnoses are related to sun exposure or artificial tanning. If you want to cut the risk of developing skin cancer by up to half, you should regularly use sunblock. Understand that every time you experience sun burn, you double or triple the possibility of developing skin cancer in that area depending on the severity of the burn. A bad and painful burn isn’t the only kind of sun exposure that can increase the risks. Even a moderate pink burn that doesn’t bother you all that much can change your skin at the cellular level and increase the chances of skin cancer developing.

What treatment is like

Treatment depends upon what stage the cancer is in. Initially, if your dermatologist deems a growth suspect, it will be biopsied. If the cancer isn’t advanced and is localized to the one location, surgery is in order to remove the growth. If an excisional biopsy was performed, the mole will have already been entirely removed. However, regardless of how advanced the disease is, referrals will need to be made for further treatment. If it’s deemed that the cancer hasn’t spread through the use of other testing, then you can rest a bit easier knowing it was localized to the mole. It will be recommended that you return multiple times a year for checkups if skin cancer was identified and removed.


Conclusion

Identifying skin cancer as soon as possible is the best way to ensure you make a full recovery. While skin cancer is highly treatable, success depends on catching it early enough before it can spread. If you have moles or growths that or no or appear to be changing, it’s important to make an appointment with your dermatologist as soon as possible. Contact us today. Dr. Allen A. Flood and his team are here to provide you with the care you need. If you haven’t had a skin cancer screening recently, now is the best time to schedule one.

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