With the incidence of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, on the rise, it is now more important than ever to be vigilant about new growths and possible early skin cancers. Read below to find out more about the three most common types of skin cancers, some of the possible treatments, and helpful screening tips.
Skin Cancer Treatment
Here are a couple treatments that are commonly used for skin cancers. Click on the links to learn more about each treatment and for what cancer it may be best. Not all treatments can be used for all cancers, and in some cases, there are multiple treatments for any given tumor.
Possible Treatments For Basal Cell Carcinomas
For Squamous Cell Carcinomas
Treatments For Melanoma
- Wide surgical excision and closure +/- sentinel node biopsy / lymph node excision
- Hyperthermic limb perfusion
Skin Cancer Screening
Routine self skin exams are KEY to catching a skin cancer early and getting the best treatment and outcome. In general, any new or changing growth should be brought to your dermatologists attention immediately. Here are some rules of thumb for skin exams.
- Self Examination Routines
- Take a picture of each quadrant of your back and put these pictures on your hard drive. Have someone label each quadrant of your back with your initials, the date, and the back label (right upper back, etc) with an eyebrow pencil and take the digital picture with NO background except your skin. Put a ruler next to any moles you want to keep a closer eye on and take a closer picture. There is no limit to how many pictures you can take. If a mole changes or your are unsure, compare this with your pictures, print it out, and bring it to your dermatologist.
- Identifying Basal Cell Carcinoma, Skin Cancer
Any new pink or translucent bump may be a basal cell carcinoma. Also pink scaling areas may be consistent with a superficial type of basal cell carcinoma. Any new “bump” or pink growth should be examined immediately.
- Identifying Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Signs for Squamous Cell Carcinoma, can be a rough and possibly painful bump with a red base is the usual presentation, but firm red and possibly sore nodules can also be consistent with a squamous cell carcinoma. These cancers can grow rapidly. Often, patients also have “pre-cancerous” actinic keratoses prior to the presentation of a squamous cell carcinoma.
- Identifying Melanoma
For Melanoma, a new or changing mole or pink patch/bump may be the most likely presentation, although melanoma can present as almost anything. In general, when looking at moles make sure that the mole is “round and brown”, and that the edges, symmetry, color are regular and consistent throughout the lesion. This rule is not hard and fast, so if you see a new bump or colored patch anywhere on your body, come in immediately.
The best way to catch a melanoma is to do a monthly skin exam. For five minutes once a month, look everywhere, even between your toes. Have someone look at your back and you look at theirs. Here are some other helpful screening and protection tips:
Best Practices to Avoid Skin Cancer
- Wear a sunblock SPF 30 or higher in the morning and reapply at lunch. An SPF 30 will block over 97% of the UV rays. Make sure to get a broad spectrum sunblock in order to block both UVA and UVB. It is important to note that you must wear sunblock even on cloudy days as UV rays still come through without direct sunlight.
- Stay out of the sun! It is fine to go out and enjoy the weather, but try to sit in the shade if you plan on being out where there is direct sunlight.
Still have questions about skin cancer or worried that you may have one? Call us at 310.205.3555 or 818.914.7546, email us, or click on the chat box on the right lower edge of your screen. We’d be happy to help!