Know How to Spot Skin Cancer and What Your Treatment Options Are

Know How to Spot Skin Cancer and What Your Treatment Options Are

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to hear that early detection saves lives, especially when it comes to cancer. However, it’s even more true when it comes to the most common form of the disease — skin cancer — which strikes 1 in 5 people by age 70.

Despite the prevalence of skin cancer, the good news is that 99% of cases are cured when diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Fortunately, skin cancer develops on the outside of your body, so you can often see the problem, when you know what to look for.

Board certified dermatologist Juan-Carlos Caballero, MD, leads the team of specialists at Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center in Warrenton, Virginia. He's an expert in all aspects of skin care, including general, surgical, cosmetic and pediatric dermatology. 

In this blog, Dr. Caballero shares how you can spot skin cancer and what he can do to treat any skin issues you may have.

The signs of skin cancer

First, not all skin cancer is the same. There are three major forms, and they each look a little different.

Basal cell carcinoma

This type typically occurs on parts of your body with more sun exposure, such as your face or neck. A basal cell carcinoma often looks like a waxy or pearly bump; a flat, brown or flesh-colored lesion; or a chronic bleeding or scabbing sore.

Squamous cell carcinoma

This form of skin cancer is also more common on sun-exposed areas, but people with darker skin have higher rates of occurrence on other parts of the body. Squamous cell carcinoma can also look like a flat lesion with a crusty or scaly surface, or a red, firm lump.

Melanoma

By far the most dangerous form, melanoma, can appear anywhere on the body, including in existing moles or on otherwise normal skin.

Signs of melanoma include:

Melanoma can also appear as dark lesions on the fingertips, palms, toes, soles of the feet, or on the mucous membranes in your nose, mouth, anus, or vagina.

These are just a few of the most common types of skin cancer. To avoid potential problems, schedule a skin cancer screening with Dr. Caballero or a member of his expert team if you detect any changes with your skin, especially if they seem unusual.

Looking for skin cancer

Now that you know what to watch for, it’s essential to perform regular skin checks. Since anyone can get skin cancer, Dr. Caballero recommends performing self-exams once a month. All you need is a bright light, a mirror, and a way to document your findings, such as using the American Academy of Dermatology Association’s body mole map.

When performing your self-exam, don’t forget key areas:

Doing these skin checks regularly will help you learn to recognize what’s normal so you can detect changes as soon as they appear.

For additional prevention, you should also schedule full body, professional skin exams with Dr. Caballero. In most cases, these are annual exams. However, he could suggest more frequent appointments if you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Treating skin cancer

Skin cancer treatments vary based on the type, size, depth, and location. Common approaches include:

Mohs surgery is also a highly effective skin cancer treatment for recurring, large, or difficult-to-treat skin cancers. During this procedure, the abnormal cells get removed a layer at a time, preserving as much healthy tissue in the area as possible.

If you have skin cancer and are seeking treatment, or if you want to schedule a skin cancer screening, call 540-212-7081 or request an appointment online with Warrenton Dermatology & Skin Therapy Center today.

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