Skin Cancer Surveillance and Prevention
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and keeping your skin safe from UV rays and sun damage is about much more than maintaining a youthful-looking appearance. You also want to protect against the development of skin cancer, which is the most commonly occurring cancer. The more you know about preventing and recognizing the signs of skin cancer, the better your chances likely are of getting early treatment if a lesion develops. Our experienced physician, Dr. Shehla Ebrahim, can examine any areas of concern you may have and determine if further treatment may be necessary.
For more information about skin cancer diagnosis and treatment, or to schedule a consultation with our doctors, please contact our office today.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are several forms of skin cancer; however, the most common type is basal cell carcinoma (BCC), which also happens to be the least dangerous. BCCs rarely prove fatal, but they will not heal on their own and still require treatment. The second most common skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is more dangerous than BCC, but death is also extremely rare. The third main type of skin cancer is melanoma, the most dangerous and deadly, of which there are numerous distinguishing kinds. If you have an unusual mole, area of pigmentation, or a pimple or sore that never heals, you should schedule a consultation with our doctors or a dermatologist for examination immediately.
In many cases, skin cancer can be prevented with dedicated use of protective measures, such as applying sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days, and by wearing sunglasses and protective clothing. Early detection is essential, and you should have regular skin cancer screenings performed by a professional. Pay attention to your skin, and seek assistance if something unusual develops, such as an atypical mole.
It’s important to note, if you have had BCCs or SCCs in the past, you are at greater risk for developing them again in the future. You also have an elevated risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Younger patients and individuals with a compromised immune system are often the most vulnerable.
Skin Cancer Predispositions
In addition to excess sun exposure, the risk of developing skin cancer can increase as a result of illness, disease, and genetic predisposition. Some of the most common of these contributing factors include:
- Arsenic poisoning
- Genetic predisposition to BCC
- Solar keratoses (also known as actinic keratoses)
- Genital warts
- Genetic predisposition to melanoma
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Medications that suppress the immune system, including azathioprine and ciclosporin
- Organ transplantation
- Progeria (premature aging syndrome)
- Sun damage
- Lichen sclerosus
- Linear porokeratosis
- Cutaneous tuberculosis
Skin Cancer Treatments
Fortunately, there is a broad range of treatments for skin cancer, many of which offer excellent removal rates and long-term success. The methods include topical, oral, and surgical approaches, such as:
- Mohs Micrographic Surgery
- Fluorouracil cream
- Imiquimod cream
- Photodynamic therapy
- Vismodegib (oral medication)
- Immunotherapy for melanoma
- Ipilimumab (intravenous treatment for advanced melanoma)
- Vemurafenib (oral medication for inoperable melanoma)
- Dabrafenib (oral medication for inoperable melanoma)
In some cases, the external signs of skin cancer may suggest the existence of internal cancers as well. For this and other reasons, it is essential that if you discover an unusual or new mark, sore, mole, or other skin lesion, you have it examined immediately.
If you have additional questions about skin cancer screening and protection, or if you wish to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ebrahim, please contact us today.