With May being National Skin Cancer Awareness Month and summer, with its blazing sun, being right around the corner, it’s important now more than ever to address some common concerns when it comes to skin cancer.
Did you know 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer at one point in their lives? And while they’re generally curable, early detection and being informed are key.
One of our very own experts in skin cancer detection and treatment, Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga, is here to help shed some light on a dark issue affecting more than 3 million people in the United States each year.
1. What does skin cancer look like?
What makes skin cancer unique is that it can often be prevented and even cured in its early stages, assuming you know what to look for. Not only is regularly checking your entire body important but having a skilled dermatologist do the same can also help you detect concerning areas you may otherwise overlook.
“Skin cancer can look like a patch of dry skin, something that doesn’t heal, or a brown spot/mole. It is important to pay attention to your skin and watch for any changes in skin lesions, or if you get new moles. In dermatology, we use the ‘ABCDEs’ for melanoma to teach patients what to look for in the skin.”
A = Asymmetry (one half of the mole is different than the other)
B = Irregular Borders (jagged edges, not clear borders)
C = Color (different colors within a mole, shades of brown/black/grey/red)
D = Diameter (any mole larger than a pencil eraser should be checked)
E = Evolving (any skin lesion that is changing – enlarging/painful/crusty/ scaly)
2. How is skin cancer diagnosed?
“A dermatologist usually performs a skin biopsy to detect skin cancer. This is a very patient-friendly procedure where we obtain a sample of the skin to send it to pathology for evaluation and a diagnosis. It usually feels like a ‘scrape’ of the skin and there is no downtime.”
Here at Apex Skin, we offer same day appointments in our SPOT CHECK clinic for checking any abnormalities you’re concerned about.
3. Can skin cancer spread?
“Skin cancer” is technically an umbrella term that encompasses a number of different types that can behave differently. In short,
“Yes, some types of skin cancer can spread. Melanoma is a very aggressive type of cancer that can spread to other tissues. Early detection is key – if we detect skin cancer early, there is 98% chance of cure.”
4. Can tanning cause skin cancer?
One of the biggest questions out there is how dangerous tanning beds and even tanning outside is for those concerned with skin cancer.
“Yes, indoor tanning is direct UV radiation into your skin. Many studies have shown the relationship between indoor tanning and increased skin cancers. This is especially true in the younger population (Ages 19-30). Melanoma is now the leading cause of cancer death in the younger populations, which is a pretty scary statistic.”
Avoid getting into any tanning beds if you want to avoid developing skin cancer as the risks are too great.
Keeping note of these ‘ABCDEs” and checking yourself monthly can mean the difference between early detection and a more unfortunate reality.
Fox8 News features Apex Skin founder and Board-Certified dermatologist Dr. Jorge Garcia for skin cancer awareness month.
5. Can tattoos cause or even hide skin cancer?
“Tattoos don’t cause skin cancer. Sometimes, tattoos over existing moles can hide the mole within the tattoo making it difficult to detect.”
Avoid placing a tattoo over a mole simply to prevent missing a major sign of skin cancer beneath a beautiful piece of art.
6. Is skin cancer the most common cancer?
With so many different types of cancer out there, knowing and understanding the most common type is important.
“Yes, skin cancer, specifically basal cell carcinoma, is the most common cause of cancer in humans. The good news is that basal cell carcinoma is very treatable and curable.”
7. Can skin cancer be cured?
Cancer is a scary word on its own, not to mention how terrifying it can be to actually discover you have it. Thankfully, skin cancer is one type of cancer that can be cured 98% of the time with early detection.
“Yes, depending on the type of cancer, there are multiple ways of treating it. Surgical procedures offer the best cure rates with Mohs micrographic surgery being the gold standard for treatment of most skin cancer on head and neck.”
8. Can people with darker skin get skin cancer?
Even if you’re not fair-skinned and don’t often burn in the sun, skin cancer can still be a danger to you.
“People of darker skin types can get skin cancer as well. Usually, the skin cancer on these patients are in non-sun exposed areas like the feet/hands. It is important to do a skin cancer screening once a year with a dermatologist to detect these lesions early.”
At Apex, we are skin cancer experts. If you notice a skin lesion that is new or changing, give us a call – we guarantee same day appointments in our SPOT CHECK clinic. We are also offering a complimentary skin cancer screening this month on May 23, 2018 from 4-7 pm at all of our locations.
Take advantage of this opportunity. Be skin smart!
Dr. Garcia-Zuazaga is the founder of Apex Skin and is Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology, is a Fellow of the American College of Mohs Surgeons, a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and Fellow of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.