Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Over the course of a lifetime, one in five people will develop some form of skin cancer. Although anyone may develop skin cancer, those at greatest risk are people who have spent a lot of time in the sun, have ever used a tanning bed, have a history of a peeling sunburn, and/or have a family history of skin cancer. While skin cancer is less common in people of color, the survival rate is significantly lower due to later stage of diagnosis and it tends to occur in areas not exposed to sunlight like the soles of the feet.
It is important that everyone wears sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays daily.
Most Common Types of Skin Cancer:
Basal cell carcinoma – the most common form of skin cancer occurring in the basal cells, which make up the top layer of skin and are responsible for producing new skin cells.
Squamous cell carcinoma – cancer occurring in the squamous cells, which make up the middle and outer layers of the skin.
Melanoma – cancer occurring in the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin (the pigment that gives skin color)
Importance of Yearly Skin Exams:
With such a high survival rate when caught early, screenings and prevention education are of the utmost importance. Everyone – regardless of skin type and skin tone – should have a yearly skin exam. If you see a new growth, notice changes in existing growths and moles, or have a sore that won’t heal, you should book an appointment right away.
The American Academy of Dermatology and the DLC Team recommend that you have an annual full-body skin examination to evaluate your skin for concerning lesions. During a full body skin exam, your skin is thoroughly examined from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet. Any concerning lesions are biopsied and evaluated.
One of the most powerful tools to detect skin cancer is your eyes. Get to know your skin! Link here to see a step by step self-exam from The Skin Cancer Foundation. Find something new, changing or unusual? Schedule a skin exam to get it checked out!
“Staying on Guard Against Skin Cancer” The New York Times, October 14, 2019
Our providers at DLC often utilize DermTech as a method for detecting melanomas. DermTech is a non-invasive, adhesive biopsy that uses adhesive patches to painlessly collect skin cells from suspicious moles. These cells are then analyzed for genes expressed in melanoma. DermTech’s precision genomic test has a less than 1% chance of missing a melanoma and results in fewer unnecessary biopsies.
Treatment options depend on the type of skin cancer diagnosed and the size and location of the lesion.
- Surgical excision – removal of the lesion and surrounding tissue.
- Electrodessication and Curettage – a scrape-and-burn technique to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
- Topical Medications – creams or gels applied directly to affected areas of the skin
- Mohs surgery – a specialized surgical procedure
If skin cancer is confirmed through biopsy or DermTech, you will be notified of your treatment options. You may be referred for Mohs surgery depending on the severity and location of the skin cancer. Mohs surgery is a precise surgical technique used to treat skin cancer. During the procedure, thin layers of tissue are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. Mohs surgery is also known as Mohs micrographic surgery.