Find Reliable Skins Treatment at Dermatology Specialists of Charlotte
Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. The most common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. A rarer but more dangerous skin cancer is melanoma, the leading cause of death from skin disease. Risk factors for developing skin cancer include pale skin, family history of melanoma, history of blistering sunburns during childhood, freckling and regular sun exposure. Skin cancers vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changed or otherwise suspicious growths or rashes should be examined immediately by a physician. Early intervention is essential to preventing the cancer from spreading.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
BCC arises from the basal cells of the epidermis. They grow out of control leading to a non-healing skin lesion that can eventually ulcerate causing local destruction. It rarely spreads beyond the skin, but can with a long period of time. Treatment is necessary to stop this local invasion and possible future spread.
Actinic Keratosis (AK) or Precancers of SCC
Precancers develop when the squamous cells of the skin become atypical and begin to overgrow their boundaries. AKs are defined as involving only a few layers of the epidermis with this atypical growth. This can progress into a squamous cell skin cancer. Treatment is necessary to remove the base of atypical cells to prevent progression to cancer. More info on Photodynamic Therapy for treatment of Actinic Keratoses.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
SCC arises from the squamous cells of the skin. If the atypical cells are confined to the epidermis, a squamous cell in situ is present. Local treatments may be curative. If the atypical cells extend into the dermis, an invasive SCC is present. This is a skin cancer that locally grows, but can spread to lymph nodes and internally if not treated.
Melanoma is a skin cancer of the melanocytes or pigment producing cells of the skin. A melanoma has cells that grow out of control, eventually going to your lymph nodes and then throughout your body. It is fatal if not caught early. Melanoma grows over a relatively short period of time.
Look for changes over a 1-2 month period. Look for asymmetry, an irregular border, color changes, particularly black, and growth in size. A melanoma can arise in moles or on any portion of the skin. If caught early, the melanoma can be excised alone with an excellent prognosis. If the melanoma is > 1mm in depth, an evaluation of your lymph nodes is recommended to determine the likelihood of spread.
Referral to an oncologist may be necessary if spread is suspected. Early detection is key. You must check your skin monthly for any changes and notify us to evaluate any suspicious lesions.
Dysplastic Nevi (DN)
These are moles with some atypical features within them. This is not a melanoma. The presence of DN is considered a risk factor for melanoma. You will need closer monitoring for melanoma. Careful surveillance of skin is the best way to identify an early melanoma, as early detection and removal is often curative. You should check your skin monthly for any changes and notify our office of any suspicious changes. Your skin should be examined by the dermatologist every 6 months.
Moles & Birthmarks
Known as nevi (singular “nevus”), moles and other birthmarks are benign pigmented spots or patches of skin that range in color from tan, brown and black (moles) to red, pink or purple (blood vessel nevi). Though most birthmarks are harmless, they may develop into cancer. Moles exhibiting any of the following warning signs should be examined by a dermatologist immediately:
Monthly self skin checks and yearly checks with your dermatologist can monitor for the above worrisome changes. Any worrisome moles need to be evaluated quickly.
Look for the ABCDEs of Melanoma detection…
Skin Cancer Facts
Skin Cancer Facts You are at increased risk for Melanoma and Skin Cancer if you have any of the following:
Everyone needs sunscreens every day, rain or shine! DSC recommends a broad spectrum sun block and/ or sunscreen to minimize sun exposure.
The United States Department of Health & Human Services has declared ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, as a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). Every time you tan, you damage your skin and this damage accumulates over time. This accumulated damage, in addition to accelerating the aging process, also increases your risk for skin cancer.
Protect yourself from exposure to Ultraviolet light (sunlight):
Sun block/ Sunscreen Recommendations
Choose your sun protection based on the product’s ingredients rather than the name brand. Check labels.