Skin Cancer Symptoms and Prevention
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one out of five people develop skin cancer in their life, making it the most common type of cancer in the United States. Luckily, skin cancer prevention and treatment is highly successful with early detection.
Skin cancer is a condition where abnormal cells grow rapidly, creating skin growths or tumors on the skin. There are many different types of skin cancer and, if left untreated, it can be severe and even life-threatening. Without proper diagnosis and monitoring, these cancer cells can spread to other areas of the body. Types of skin cancers that exist include Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma. Melanoma is an aggressive skin cancer, but it is also the least commonly developed. There are also pre-cancerous skin lesions that can be treated by our medical providers. At Fargo Center for Dermatology, we recommend regular skin exams and appointments to check any areas that you believe to be problematic.
Skin cancer develops because of the sun’s ultraviolet rays causing DNA damage in our skin cells. Skin cancer can be a result of chronic sun exposure without proper sun protection, tanning bed use, or multiple severe sunburns. Skin cancer can also be congenital, meaning obtaining a family history of immediate members is important for treatment and prevention.
Treatment for skin cancer begins with an assessment of the lesion or growth by our dermatology providers. A biopsy of the lesion will be taken and sent to the pathology lab to determine the type of skin cancer. Once more details about the biopsy are identified, treatment options and recommendations are provided. Some options include surgical interventions but there are also non-excision techniques including cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT) electrodessication and curettage, and topical medications.
At Fargo Center for Dermatology, we offer one of the newest technologies for treatment known as radiation therapy. Image-Guided Superficial Radiation Therapy (IG-SRT) uses image-guided technology and treats the affected area with a low dose of superficial radiation.
Using broad-spectrum sunscreen and avoiding excessive exposure to the sun are the best ways to prevent skin cancer. Sunscreen should be worn daily on commonly sun-exposed areas like the face, neck, chest, hands, and arms. We recommend applying physical sunscreens 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplying every 2 hours when in the sun. UV-blocking clothing, as well as hats and sunglasses, can help prevent damage as well. Regular skin exams are the best way to protect yourself from developing this common cancer.
Skin cancer can appear in many different shapes and sizes. Some common, easily identifiable characteristics of potentially worrisome lesions can include a changing area on the skin. Changes may include growth of an area, bleeding, itching, looks abnormal, or does not seem to be healing. We recommend documenting moles and growths and checking those areas regularly for any changes.
The best way to prevent skin cancer is through protective care, lifestyle changes, and regular screenings. Fargo Center for Dermatology is hosting a free Spot Skin Cancer Screening ™ Thursday, May 18th 3:30 to 7:00 pm. Call (701) 478-8780 to reserve your appointment for this event or schedule a skin exam today.