What are the main types of skin cancer?
With over one million new cases reported yearly, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The three major types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BBC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. More than 95% of skin cancer is either BBC or SCC, and there is a 95% cure rate when detected early and treated appropriately. Melanoma detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes has a five-year survival rate of 98%.
Know what to look for:
The key to detecting skin cancers is to notice changes in your skin. Look for:
- A firm, red, scaly, or crusted lesion
- Any bleeding or changing lesion
- Large brown spots with darker speckles located anywhere on the body
- Dark lesions on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, fingertips toes, mouth, nose or genitalia
- A pearly or waxy bump
- Existing moles that begin to grow, itch, or bleed
- Brown or black streaks under the nails
- A sore that repeatedly heals and re-opens
- Clusters of slow-growing scaly lesions that are pink or red
The American Academy of Dermatology has developed the following ABCDE guide for assessing whether or not a mole or other lesion may be becoming cancerous. Asymmetry: Half the mole does not match the other half in size, shape, or color. Border: The edges of the mole are irregular or blurred. Color: The mole is not the same color throughout. Diameter: The mole is larger than one-quarter inch in size. Elevation: The mole becomes elevated or raised from the skin.
What are annual skin checks?
We provide skin checks to patients of all ages. Knowing your skin is extremely important for identifying cancer early. When cancer is found early enough, it will be much easier to treat. If you are at higher risk of skin cancer, regular exams are especially important. You may be at higher risk of skin cancer if:
- You have reduced immunity
- You have had skin cancer before
- You have a strong family history of skin cancer
What are skin checks?
Skin checks/exams are usually included as part of routine health check-ups. During the exam, we will discuss any skin concerns that you might have. No matter what skin type you have, proper care is extremely important. The exam involves a head-to-toe skin examination, as well as review of your medical history. Dr. Melanie R. Haynes has special training that includes the diagnosis and management of skin cancers. Any notable changes in moles will be checked out. If we see a spot that might be cancerous, it will be biopsied.
What are precancerous lesions?
Also called actinic keratoses (AKs), or solar keratoses (SKs), precancerous skin lesions refer to various dermatological growths that are at an increased risk of developing into skin cancer. There are typically multiple lesions that are scaly, rough, and may be discolored and sensitive. There are multiple treatment options like cryotherapy (freezing) or photodynamic therapy (LED light). Your modality of treatment will be decided according to what will give the best results and fits into your lifestyle.
I’ve been diagnosed with skin cancer, now what?
There are multiple options for skin cancer treatment depending on the type, the location, and the nature of the cancer. Skin Wellness Center is a full service skin cancer facility and offers appropriate treatment options. Not all skin cancers need extensive surgical procedures for adequate treatment. Some superficial types of squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma may be treated with topical creams. However, if you do need surgery, Skin Wellness has you covered. Dr. Haynes is a skilled and experienced cutaneous surgeon and performs all surgeries in our office.
What is Mohs surgery?
Mohs micrographic surgery is considered the most effective technique for treating many BCCs and SCCs, the two most common types of skin cancer. The procedure is done in stages, all in one visit. Using a scalpel, Dr. Haynes will remove a thin layer of visible cancerous tissue. After removing a layer of tissue, she examines it under a microscope in an on-site lab. If any cancer cells remain, Dr. Haynes knows the exact area where they are and removes another layer of tissue from that precise location, while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible. She will repeat this process until no cancerous cells remain. If more than one or two rounds are needed, the entire process can take up to several hours. This precise technique has the highest cure rate of any treatment method and can save the greatest amount of healthy tissue, leaving the smallest scar possible.
What happens after the procedure?
After all of the cancer has been removed, Dr. Haynes will present options on how the wound can be repaired. Depending on the extent of the affected tissue, options presented might include:
- Letting the wound heal on its own
- Using stitches to close the wound (sometimes referred to as a primary closure)
- Placing a skin flap, which entails shifting skin from an adjacent area to cover the wound
- Using a skin graft from another part of the body to cover the wound
- Or, if the surgical area is complex, your surgeon may temporarily close your wound and refer you to another surgeon for additional reconstructive surgery.
Follow-up exams to look for additional skin cancer: Compared with people who have never had skin cancer, people who have been diagnosed with skin cancer have an increased risk of developing skin cancer again. As many as half the people diagnosed with the most common types of skin cancer will develop another skin cancer again within five years.
It is incredibly important to schedule regular follow-up visits. The frequency of your follow-up schedule is a conversation to have with your physician, for it is dependent on the type of skin cancer diagnosis you received. Dr. Haynes will give recommendations for post-care follow up, however expect to have an annual skin check, at the bare minimum. If your cancer was aggressive, the recommendation may be for multiple visits per year.
How do you treat melanoma?
The first step in treatment is removal of the primary melanoma tumor, and the standard method of doing this is by surgical excision. Surgery has made great advances in the past decade, and much less tissue is removed than was customary in the past.
Request treatments in Pinellas Park, Florida
Yearly full body exams are highly recommended for early detection and high cure rates. Stay on top of your skin health. If you’re concerned about a lesion, don’t panic. Request an appointment at Skin Wellness Center or call (727) 545-33766 to schedule an appointment directly.