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Characteristics

  • The pigmented area on the skin that changes, grows, or looks abnormal
  • Unusual growth located on the face or commonly-exposed area of skin
  • Growth that bleeds, scabs, or doesn’t seem to heal

Skin Cancer

in Fargo, North Dakota

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States, but it’s also one of the most easily treated when caught early. For this reason, you should see Dr. Ness regularly for a screening or to assess any areas you believe are problematic.

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What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer is a condition where skin cells rapidly grow to form malignant tumors that are usually visible on the skin. There are many different types of skin cancer, and some can be more dangerous because the cancer cells can spread to other areas of the body, causing tumors to grow in vital organs. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.

What Causes Skin Cancer?

Ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun or tanning beds cause skin cancer. This process of exposure causes damage to the DNA in your skin cells, causing them to grow rapidly and form growths or tumors. This can happen as the result of a lifetime of unprotected sun exposure, tanning bed use, or multiple severe sunburns. Certain chemicals can also cause skin cancer after frequent exposure.

Skin cancer can be significantly more common in certain demographics. This includes middle-aged men and patients who regularly use tanning beds. It can also be congenital, and you’re more likely to develop some kind of skin cancer if an immediate family member has it.

For the first time in a year my skin has cleared up. I thought it was never going to get better but thanks to Dr Ness it is 100% better. Thank you dr. Ness and for being such a concerned doctor.

What Types of Skin Cancer Exist?

There are three major types of skin cancer, although there are many different types overall. These three include:

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

This type is the most common type of skin cancer, and frequently develops in people with fair skin (although it can also develop in people with dark skin). These growths can form anywhere on the body, but are common on the head, neck, and arms. They appear as a skin-colored bump that is pearly or pink. If not treated, BCC can grow into the surrounding skin, tissues, and structures, compromising your health and mobility.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

This is the second most common type of skin cancer. It often looks like a sore that heals and re-opens, and can feel like a firm bump or scaly patch. These bumps often form on areas that are commonly exposed to sunlight like the ears, face, neck, arms, chest, and back. Fair skin is more likely to develop this type than darker skin, and it can spread to other areas of the body.

Melanoma

This is the deadliest type of skin cancer, and usually looks like a mole or develops on one. Melanoma can be detected with regular screenings of your full body by your dermatologist. Learn more about melanoma here.

How is Skin Cancer Treated?

Skin cancer treatment usually begins with an assessment of the growth and a biopsy to discover the type of cancer. There are many different ways to treat skin cancer which will depend on your unique circumstances and type. Most techniques involve surgical removal of the growth, although some non-excision techniques exist like cryotherapy, photodynamic treatment (PDT), electrodessication and curettage, radiation therapy, and topical medications. In some cases, professional treatments like chemical peels can be used on pre-cancerous growths.

Skin Cancer Prevention

Regular use of broad-spectrum sunscreen and avoiding sun overexposure are the best, most effective ways to prevent skin cancer. Most dermatologists recommend using at least SPF30+ that is applied around thirty minutes before going outside and is reapplied every few hours after. You should also wear UV-blocking clothing, hats, sunglasses, and lip balm to ensure against further damage.

Despite the previous preference for tanned skin, the dangers of tanning bed use have been known for some years now. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people develop skin cancer as a result of tanning bed use than do patients who develop lung cancer as a result of smoking. If you’ve ever used a tanning bed, you’re six times more likely to develop melanoma as early as your 20’s.

Whether you believe you’re at risk for skin cancer or not, it’s important to regularly screen your entire body for abnormalities and see Dr. Ness immediately if you see anything unusual. Skin cancer can be easily treated when it’s detected early, and even prevented entirely if you practice good, protective skin care.

What Can I Expect During a Screening?

An effective skin cancer screening means that a dermatologist analyzes every part of your skin for abnormalities, and also discusses any risk factors you might have for skin cancer. It’s important that you come prepared for your skin cancer screening with Dr. Ness. This includes not wearing any cosmetics like makeup or nail polish, since this can cover up signs of cancerous activity. You should also wear your hair loose and easily-accessible so that your scalp can be checked. Once you’re undressed and fitted with a gown, Dr. Ness will examine you from head to toe and may use a special instrument called a dermatoscope. This instrument is a special, light-producing magnifying glass that can allow us to closely examine any areas we discover. In the event that Dr. Ness believes you will require a biopsy, we can perform one using a local anesthetic at our state-of-the-art facilities to check for cancerous activity.

Schedule A Consultation

The best way to prevent skin cancer is through protective care, lifestyle changes, and regular screenings with Dr. Ness. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Ness for a screening or to discuss your treatment options, contact Fargo Dermatology by calling or filling out our online form.

Dr. Rachel Ness Medical

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