Skin Cancer Treatment

SKIN CANCER IS ON THE RISE.

If you have any suspicious spots, be safe and have a dermatologist look at it. Or if you want to schedule a yearly skin exam with Dr. Stevenson, click here or call toll-free 1-877-816-DERM(3376).

It is the most common form of cancer in the US today and more than one million skin cancers are diagnosed annually. In fact, one in five Americans will be diagnosed with some type of skin cancer. Not to worry, though. Skin cancer can be cured with early diagnosis and treatment. People that have had skin cancer before are at higher risk for developing it again so we recommend that those individuals get a full body exam at least once a year. Others should be seen at least every 2 years. Those that have had a Malignant Melanoma need to be checked every 6 months, or even soon if Dr. Stevenson thinks you are at higher risk.

Skin cancer, like other cancers, occurs when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells causing skin cells to form malignant tumors. The most common skin cancers are Actinic Keratosis (commonly known as AKs), Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), and Malignant Melanoma.

Actinic Keratosis (AKs) – Pre-Cancerous
AKs are very common, especially here in sunny Florida. If left untreated, they can turn into Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), and even in rare cases, Basal Cell Carcinoma. They are characterized by rough, scaly, crusty patches of skin that are thought to be caused by sun and UV exposure. They can be a variety of colors, and can be found on any part of the body, but mostly seen in exposed parts of the body such as the face, ear, arms, scalp, and lips. Some common complaints are rough textured skin, spontaneous bleeding, discoloration, itching, and trouble healing. More than 10 million Americans have AKs, which are the first step in the development of certain types of skin cancers. Since there is no way to know ahead of time which AKs would develop into SCC, it is important to see Dr. Stevenson for a yearly skin exam.

Due to the risk of AKs developing into skin cancer, as a preventative measure, it may be recommended to treat them all at one time. One of the most common ways to treat AKs is with a topical medication, 5-Fluorouracil 5%, an FDA approved chemotherapy cream or solution. Even though this treatment works very well, it does have some temporary unsightly cosmetic side effects such as redness, burning, peeling skin, crusting and swelling, as well non-skin related effects such as metallic taste buds, mouth sores, nausea and sensitivity to light. It is imperative to use sunscreen while undergoing this treatment.

Another treatment for pre-cancerous AKs is with Blu-U Light Therapy.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the 2nd most common skin cancer. Around 700,000 new cases of SCC are diagnosed in the US each year. It can occur in every area of the body, but is most common in sun exposed areas. SCC usually begins as a small sandpaper-like growth called Actinic Keratosis (AKs).  They are often reddish in color, look like a firm bump, scaly patch, or an ulcer that heals and then reopens. Squamous Cells have a 90% cure rate when found early, but if left untreated, it can disfigure and even cause death.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, and more than 2,000,000 are diagnosed each year. BCC can occur in any part of your body, is usually painless, and almost always slow growing. It has a high rate of cure and typically does not spread to other areas of the body, but it can disfigure your skin if not treated. BCCs often look like an open sore that won’t heal. Other visual symptoms are waxy-looking bumps, flat scaly brown patches, white waxy scars with spontaneous bleeding.

Melanoma
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and is responsible for 80% of skin cancer deaths. One person dies every hour from melanoma in the United States. If discovered early, melanoma is completely curable. Read below to find out the warning signs of melanoma.

The ABCDE’s of Melanoma

A is for Asymmetry – Watch out for moles or spots that lack symmetry. (One side does not look like the other.)

B is for Border – The border of a melanoma tends to be uneven, with scalloped or edges not well defined.

C is for Color – Melanomas are often multicolored in shades of brown, black, gray, red, white or blue.

D is for Diameter – Melanomas are typically bigger than a pencil eraser in diameter (1/4″ or 6mm), but they can be smaller.

E is for Evolving – Common moles look the same over time. Keep an eye out for a mole that is evolving or changing in any way. Melanoma, by its very nature, will change over time.

If you have any suspicious spots, be safe and have a dermatologist look at it. Or if you want to schedule a yearly skin exam with Dr. Stevenson, click here or call toll-free 1-877-816-DERM(3376).

Watch this clip to find out why everyone should have a yearly skin examination to detect skin cancer and pre-cancerous  conditions.