Can you remember the last time your skin was looked at by a skin care…
FAQs About Skin Cancer – Your Skin Cancer Questions, Answered by a Board-Certified Dermatologist
At Brentwood Dermatology, our patients often have several questions revolving around skin cancer. Considering skin cancer rates are going up year after year, we are excited about educating and informing everyone – not just our patients – on this common skin disease.
To get more information on the subject, we sat down with Caroline Lee. She is an experienced licensed medical professional at Brentwood Dermatology and an expert regarding skin cancer FAQs.
Skin Cancer FAQs with Caroline Lee, PA
What are the most common skin cancers that dermatologists treat?
In dermatologic settings, there are often certain types of skin cancers that are more prevalent than others. In your experience, which is the most common?
Caroline told us, “There are several types of skin cancer, but in general, we most commonly treat basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer.”
What are the early signs of skin cancer?
Similar to other skin conditions, there are certain warning signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for.
In Caroline’s experience, she said, “It can be hard to recognize the signs of skin cancer on your own, so it is important to see your dermatologist at least yearly for full-body skin exams. Skin cancers can be a variety of colors, but are most commonly pink, brown, or black. They usually change in size or shape over time and can bleed or hurt. They may be shiny or scaly.”
If you want to learn more about skin cancer screenings at Brentwood Dermatology, click here.
How does a dermatologist diagnose skin cancer?
According to Caroline, a dermatologist will usually diagnose skin cancer with a skin biopsy.
What is a biopsy? Caroline told us that a biopsy is when “a portion of the suspicious lesion is removed while [the skin] is numb, and the sample is sent to the pathologist. The pathologist looks at sections of the skin under a microscope and determines if malignant cells are present.”
Does skin cancer spread?
We’ve all heard horror stories of skin cancer spreading to other areas of the body. But is it really that common for skin cancer to spread?
According to Caroline, “Some skin cancers do spread. Basal cell carcinomas almost always only spread locally on and within the skin. Squamous cell carcinomas have the potential to spread to the lymph nodes and other organs, especially if left untreated for some time, are large in size, or are located on areas of the head, neck, ears, and hands. That said, it is still rare for squamous cell carcinomas to invade the body.
Melanoma has the highest likelihood of spreading to lymph nodes and other organs. Depending on the depth of the melanoma, a general surgeon may explore the nearby lymph nodes to ensure the cancer has not spread.”
Does sunburn cause skin cancer?
This concern is one of the most common questions Brentwood Dermatology gets regarding skin cancer. In Caroline’s expert view, “Sunburns increase your risk of skin cancer, especially if they are blistering sunburns.”
With this in mind, it is imperative to wear sunscreen every single day! We recommend including sunscreen in your daily skincare routine and applying sunscreen to the whole body when spending time outdoors, such as if you’re at the beach or gardening.
Is skin cancer deadly?
Caroline told us, “Skin cancer can be deadly. However, it is relatively rare. That said, it is important to have yearly skin checks to further reduce this risk.”
How treatable is skin cancer?
With skin cancer rates on the rise, and as more people see this skin disease affecting friends and family, many often wonder if skin cancer is treatable.
According to Caroline, “Most skin cancers we diagnose can be easily treated [at Brentwood Dermatology]. There are difficult-to-treat cases where dermatologists work with general surgeons, plastic surgeons, and oncologists to provide the patient with optimal care.”
What are the most common treatments for skin cancer?
In conjunction with the question above, dermatologists use certain treatments and methods more than others to address various skin cancers.
Caroline told us, “Most commonly, skin cancers are surgically removed. Superficial skin cancers are sometimes treated with curettage, which is scraping the cancer with a specific tool, and electrocautery, or are frozen with liquid nitrogen.
Depending on the location, skin cancers are usually surgically excised or treated with Mohs surgery. This is a technique where layers of the skin are removed and examined under the microscope until the entire cancer has been eliminated. Mohs surgeons have extensive training and certifications. Mohs surgery provides a high cure rate and preserves cancer-free skin. Some skin cancers require radiation, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy for treatment.”
Schedule Your Skin Cancer Screening at Brentwood Dermatology
If you’ve noticed a suspicious spot or atypical mole on your skin or have simply never had a board-certified dermatologist examine your skin before, it’s time to schedule your skin cancer screening.
Our friendly dermatologists and healthcare providers at Brentwood Dermatology are experienced in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating skin cancers. We’re passionate about helping our patients achieve happy, healthy skin. Contact us today to schedule your dermatology appointment!
If you’re interested in learning more about basal cell carcinoma or need to schedule your annual skin cancer screening, the expert team of board-certified dermatologists at Brentwood Dermatology are here to help. Schedule an appointment online or give us a call today at 615-377-3448!