One in five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer over the course of their lifetimes.
With early detection and treatment, however, most skin cancers are completely curable. Early detection and treatment of any form of skin cancer are essential both to prevent the disease from spreading to other areas of the body and to achieve better outcomes.
The type of treatment a patient receives depends on the following:
Types of Skin Cancer
There are three main types of skin cancer: Melanoma, Non-melanoma skin cancers, and Squamous cell carcinoma
Melanoma – Melanoma is a specific type of skin cancer that begins with the cells that produce pigment. Melanoma can occur on any skin surface and rarely in the eye.
The clinical signs of identifying melanoma are detected by simply using your “ABC’s” as follows:
ABC’s of Melanoma
The ABC’s of melanoma can help you to determine is a mole is possibly problematic.
- Asymmetry – Cancerous moles tend to be asymmetrical where one half does not look like the other.
- Border – benign moles have a smooth oval, round edges while melanomas often have irregular, jagged edges
- Color – benign moles tend to be a uniform color of brown or tan whereas cancerous moles are often irregular in color: black, brown, red, and the color can appear irregular.
- Diameter – benign moles generally are smaller than 6 mm which is the diameter of most pencils, whereas melanomas are often larger. Also, D can stand for darkness- if a mole is jet black in color.
- Evolution – benign moles typically don’t change in appearance whereas melanomas may change in appearance in any or all of the ABCD features above.
So, if you have a mole with any of the ABCDE findings that are described above, it is super important to call and have your mole evaluated by one of our skin experts to see if it may need a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
Non-melanoma skin cancers -Basal cell carcinoma – This is the most common form of skin cancer, with more than 4 million new cases each year in the U.S.
It is usually caused by sun exposure and doesn’t normally spread to other parts of the body. They tend to grow very slowly and occur most often in sun-exposed locations. Often a patient may notice a growth that may be waxy or have a pearly appearance, with a rolled border. Often patients will notice a growth will crust over, heal, then crust and scab again. This is a common history for patients that present for evaluation with a basal cell carcinoma. Fortunately, basal cell carcinomas are almost always successfully treated based on the specifics of a patient’s problem.
Squamous cell carcinoma – This is the second most common form of skin cancer, with more than 1 million new cases each year in the U.S.
Sun exposure is also a major cause of these cancers. These lesions often appear in sun-exposed locations, may grow more quickly, and are sometimes painful. Squamous cell carcinomas are more potentially dangerous to patients as they have the potential to spread to regional lymph nodes and cause even more problems. Their appearance may be described as a pink nodule with a central crust, sometimes resembling a small volcano.
There are other non-melanoma types of skin cancer, but BCC and SCC account for the vast majority of non-melanoma skin cancers.
Diagnosis of Skin Cancer
Treatment of Skin Cancer
- ED&C: (simple scraping and cauterizing) which is usually done in areas that are not cosmetically sensitive.
- Excision: The lesion is removed with an adequate safety margin surgically and stitches are placed to allow for proper healing.
- Mohs Surgery: Is a highly specialized for removing skin cancers especially those that may be located in cosmetically sensitive locations, have aggressive growth features, may be recurrent (removed and come back), be large, or in sensitive locations such as the face or eyelid. SCPOG has two board-certified dermatologists who have completed specialized training with a year fellowship, (Dr. David Kent, Dr. Judah Greenberg). To learn more about Mohs surgery and why you should consider Skin Care Physicians of Georgia for treating your skin cancer and Mohs surgery click here.
- Superficial Radiation Treatment (SRT): SCPOG is fortunate to have the only SRT unit in middle Georgia. It is a type of radiation treatment specifically designed for treating certain superficial skin cancers in sensitive areas without surgery in particular the central face and lower extremity. No downtime is necessary and the series of treatments is set up and each visit takes just a few minutes.