Skin Cancer: Prevention, Detection, and Treatment
Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in the U.S. Accounting for one in every three cancer diagnoses, it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
UV exposure is the single biggest contributing factor to skin cancer. Taking steps to avoid excessive UV exposure is, therefore, the most effective method of prevention. This can include:
- Staying in the shade or indoors during peak sun hours (10 am – 4 pm)
- Wearing protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants
- Wearing a wide-brimmed sunhat that covers the head, face, neck, and ears
- Using a full-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
- Wearing wrap-around style sunglasses with full-spectrum UV protection
Even with preventive measures, it is a good idea to undergo a complete skin exam every year. This helps ensure the swift identification and removal of cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions.
Detecting Skin Cancer
Manual examination of unusual growths is the first step in detecting skin cancer. If a growth prompts concern, a biopsy will be needed to determine if cancer is present. For this biopsy, a small amount of skin is removed for further analysis.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the two most common types of skin cancer. When detected early and prevented from spreading, both of these types of cancer are highly treatable. Melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, is treatable as well, but because it can spread so quickly, prompt detection is essential for long-term health.
Treating Skin Cancer
Skin cancer cells must be removed from the skin surgically. Depending on the spread of the cancer, chemotherapy and radiation may be required as well.
Pre-cancerous growths and sunspots do not require such invasive treatments and often respond well to laser skin resurfacing or IPL therapy. These safe and effective treatments are performed in our office, require little to no downtime, and can dramatically improve the appearance of your skin.
We Are Here to Help
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to recommit to preventative measures. It’s also a good time to schedule your annual skin examination. Give us a call at 206-402-4797 to schedule your next appointment today. We serve Seattle and all nearby areas of Washington.
Rachel Maddow Shares Skin Cancer Diagnosis Experience
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in America, and it’s also one of the most treatable if and when it is caught in early stages. If you haven’t had an annual skin check, we encourage you to contact Advanced Dermatology and Laser Institute to arrange your next appointment!
It’s easy to neglect these skin checks, especially if you haven’t noticed anything that is obviously out of the norm. Oftentimes it’s difficult to tell if a mole or other mark on the skin is cause for concern, and so it is easy to shuffle the check-up to the bottom of your list of priorities.
Sometimes we get little reminders of just how important it is to prioritize our health:
One of the most recent reminders came from television host and political commentator Rachel Maddow. Maddow recently revealed a skin cancer diagnosis, which she luckily caught early and received surgery to remove the cancer with no signs of spread. She had a mole on her neck which she knew was there, but hadn’t gotten examined.
Maddow and her partner attended a minor league baseball game. After some time sitting next to each other, her partner turned to her, touched the mole on her neck, and told Maddow that the mole had changed. At first, Maddow brushed off the concern and felt like the mole was no big deal. Later, she asked her longtime hairdresser about the mole, who also reported that the mole had changed. At this point, Maddow decided to get the mole looked at. Sure enough, the mole was diagnosed as skin cancer and Maddow underwent treatment with a few days of downtime afterward.
Annual skin exams are part of good and efficient health maintenance. Sometimes skin cancers are hiding “in plain sight” and only need an experienced eye of a dermatologist to quickly make a correct diagnosis. In the video, Rachel Maddow gives a personal testimony of her recently diagnosed skin cancer and how easy it was to get it properly screened and treated. You will enjoy her call to action on this important preventative skin care need.
Skin Check: ABCDE
You should schedule a check-up if you are concerned about any moles or other marks on your skin. It’s a good idea to have an annual full body skin check. In the meantime, when you perform a self-skin check at home, keep ABCDE in mind:
- Asymmetry. One side of the mole or spot does not look the same as the other half.
- Border. Instead of a smooth, circular mole, potential melanoma may have a scalloped, jagged, or otherwise irregular border.
- Color. Instead of being one color, melanoma may be multiple colors, including reds and blues, or it may have various shades.
- Diameter. Melanoma is often at least as big as a pencil eraser when diagnosed, but it can be smaller.
- Evolving. Melanoma often changes over time in relation to size, shape, or color.
Please book an appointment with Dr. Greene if you notice any of the ABCDEs or have other concerns.
To learn more, or to arrange an appointment with experienced Seattle dermatologist Dr. Steven Greene, please call Advanced Dermatology and Laser Institute at 206-402-4797.