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Skin Cancer Treatment

Skin Cancer Treatment

Basal Cell Carcinoma Squamous Cell Carcinoma Malignant Melanoma

Skin cancer is the most prevalent of all cancers. It is estimated that approximately 1,000,000 Americans develop skin cancer every year.

Is it Skin Cancer – or something else?

Most anyone over the age of 50 who has had repeated sun exposure will have precancerous growths called Actinic Keratosis. These thickened rough patches are easily treatable at this stage with cryotherapy. Actinic Keratoses often are “felt” before they are notice visually.

Your skin concern may only be correctable changes caused by Sun Damage, but only a Board Certified Dermatologist is qualified to make that determination. Dr. Cobos will thoroughly examine your skin and advise you of the proper steps if skin cancer is suspected. Skin Cancer can be deadly. If you have any changes in existing moles, pigmented areas, “beauty marks” or discover new lesions or moles, have your skin examined.

Skin Cancer Foundation Resources

Skin Cancer Facts

The three most common types of Skin Cancer:

Protect your Children

It takes only 5 sunburns to double the risk of skin cancer. Sunburn can occur any time children are exposed to the sun for more than a few minutes, whether that’s at the beach, biking with mom, or watching a sister’s soccer game, so good sun protection is always important.

Sun avoidance is the best defense against skin cancer.

The principal cause of skin cancer is almost universally accepted by medical experts to be overexposure to sunlight, especially when it results in sunburn and blistering. Other less important factors would include: repeated medical and industrial x-ray exposure; scarring from diseases or burns; occupational exposure to such compounds as coal and arsenic, and family history.

Prevention is a matter of guarding the skin against the known causes. Since the sun and its ultraviolet rays would seem to be the main culprit, the most effective preventive method is sun avoidance. Limit the exposure of the skin to harmful rays by covering up and using sunscreens with at least a 30 SPF rating. Tanning beds pose similar dangers and are not recommended.

Early detection is the surest way to a cure.

It is a simple routine to inspect your body for any skin changes. Actinic keratosis and each of the skin cancers depicted below can be readily detected. If any growth, moles, sore or discoloration appears suddenly or begins to change, see Dr. Cobos. She will know immediately if you should have a biopsy to determine the existence of possible skin cancer.

Precancerous skin conditions

In addition to the types of skin cancers illustrated here, be alert for a precancerous lesion called actinic keratosis. These small scaly spots are most commonly found on the face and back of the hands in fair-skinned individuals who have had significant sun exposure. This can be treated by a dermatologist, facial plastic surgeon or any other skin specialist. If they are not treated, some of them may become skin cancer, requiring more extensive treatment. If they are diagnosed in the early stages, actinic keratosis can be removed by cryotherapy (freezing), by applying a topical form of chemotherapy or by other outpatient procedures.

1) Basal cell carcinoma

basal_cell_picThis tumor of the skin usually appears as a small, pearly fleshy bump or nodule on the head, neck and hands that may bleed easily. Occasionally these nodules may appear on the trunk of the body, usually as flat growths. Basal cell carcinomas seldom occur in dark-skinned persons; they are the most common skin cancers found in Caucasians. It has been found that people who have this cancer frequently have light hair, eyes and complexions, and they don’t tan easily. These tumors don’t spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. It may take many months or years for one to reach a diameter of one half inch. Untreated, the cancer will begin to bleed, crust

over, then repeat the cycle. Although this type of cancer rarely metastasizes (spread to other parts of the body), it can extend below the skin to the bone and cause considerable local damage.

2) Squamous cell carcinoma

squaremouse_cell_picThese tumors may appear as nodules or as red, scaly patches. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common skin cancer found in Caucasians. It typically is found on the rim of the ear, the face, the lips and mouth. It is rarely found on dark-skinned persons. This cancer will develop into large masses. Unlike basal cell carcinoma, it can metastasize. It is estimated that there are 2,300 deaths from non-melanoma skin cancers every year.The cure rate for both basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma is 95 percent, when properly treated.

3) Malignant melanoma

It is projected that this most virulent of all skin cancers develops on the skin of 32,000 Americans annually. And every year an estimated 6,800 Americans will die from melanoma. It is important to note that the death rate is at last declining, because patients are seeking help earlier. Melanoma, like basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, is almost always curable in its early stages.

Melanoma has its beginnings in melanocytes, the skin cells that produce the dark protective pigment called melanin. It is melanin that is responsible for suntanned skin, acting as partial protection against sun. Melanoma cells usually continue to produce melanin, which accounts for the cancers appearing in mixed shades of tan, brown and black. Melanoma has a tendency to metastasize to other parts of the body, making it essential to treat.

A “funny-looking” mole could be the first indicator of Melanoma.
Get checked. Melanoma is the most aggressive skin cancer and spreads quickly.

Melanoma may suddenly appear without warning but it may also begin in or near a mole or other dark spot in the skin. For that reason it is important that you know the location and appearance of the moles on your body so any change will be noticed. During a skin cancer exam, Dr. Cobos will “map” your moles on a skin chart.

Excessive exposure to the sun, as with the other skin cancers, is accepted as a cause of melanoma, especially among light-skinned people. Heredity may play a part, and also atypical moles, which may run in families, can serve as markers, identifying the person as being at higher risk for developing melanoma there or elsewhere in the skin.

Dark brown or black skin is not a guarantee against melanoma and can develop this cancer, especially on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, under nails, or in the mouth.

Other warning signs include : changes in the surface of a mole; scaliness, oozing, bleeding or the appearance of a bump or nodule; spread of pigment from the border into surrounding skin; and change in sensation including itchiness, tenderness, or pain.

How skin cancer is treated

If a laboratory test reveals that an area of the skin is cancerous, the dermatologist has an array of procedures to choose from, dependent on the needs of the individual patient. In the treatment of any of the skin cancers, early detection and removal is the best defense.

Fortunately, skin cancers are relatively easy to detect and most can be cured. Even malignant melanoma, if caught in its early stages, can be treated successfully.

Dr. Cobos recommends that one helpful way to guard against melanoma/skin cancer is with periodic self-examinations. Get familiar with your skin and your own pattern of moles, freckles and “beauty marks”. Be alert to changes in the number, size, and shape and color of pigmented areas. If any changes are noticed, call your dermatologist in Orange County right away.

Periodic Self-Examination

The following is a suggested method of self-examination that will ensure that no area of the body is neglected. To perform your self-examination you will need a full length mirror, a hand mirror and a brightly lit room.

Fortunately, skin cancers are relatively easy to detect and most can be cured. Even malignant melanoma, if caught in its early stages, can be treated successfully.

Dr. Cobos recommends that one helpful way to guard against melanoma/skin cancer is with periodic self-examinations. Get familiar with your skin and your own pattern of moles, freckles and “beauty marks”. Be alert to changes in the number, size, and shape and color of pigmented areas. If any changes are noticed, call your dermatologist right away.

Locate Us

Premiere Dermatology
475 S. State College Blvd.
Brea, CA 92821