It's more common than you may think, and it can turn deadly. Yes, skin cancer affects 3.5 million individuals in the United States annually, says the Skin Cancer Foundation. While you may not think it can affect you and yours, think again because individuals of all ages and walks of life fall prey to this all-too-common cancer. At Academy Dermatology in Edina, MN, your board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Tope, wants you to know the early signs of skin cancer because when caught early, this cancer is highly curable.
Kinds of skin cancer
There are three very common types:
- Basal cell carcinoma, the most frequently occurring and slowest to spread
- Squamous cell carcinoma, a type which spreads more quickly
- Melanoma, the rarest, but deadliest, which spreads to major organs fast
Both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas typically appear on parts of the body which receive the most sun exposure (the face, neck, arms, shoulders). Melanoma can show up almost anywhere, tends to run in families, and appears more often in people with very light skin.
Spotting skin cancer
People over the age of 40 should come to Academic Dermatology in Edina to see their dermatologist annually for a visual inspection of their skin. Additionally, patients should inspect their skin, including their back and other areas of the body which are more hidden, once a month.
Signs of concern include:
- Sores which do not heal and are itchy, red, inflamed, or which seem to spread pigment beyond their original borders
- Patchy, diffuse areas of scaly skin
- Moles with notched or changing borders
In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology urges adults to inspect skin spots, especially moles, using these easy-to-remember ABCDE guidelines:
- A stands for asymmetrical. If you were to divide a mole in half, each side should remain about the same size. A change in one side could indicate cancer.
- B stands for border. Borders, or margins, should be distinct and smooth, with no notching.
- C means color. A benign spot is one color all the way through. Color diffusion or multiple colors may indicate malignancy.
- D equals diameter. Melanomas grow to be larger than the diameter of a pencil top eraser.
- E means evolving. When a mole or spot changes size, color or shape, this may be skin cancer.
We're here to help
If you have any questions about a spot or mole, be sure to call Academic Dermatology right away. Also, Dr. Tope is available for online dermatology visits via smartphone imaging, and he is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers, including innovative MOHS Micrographic Surgery to remove complex cancers. Contact the office in Edina, MN, today for more information: (952) 746-6090.