Dr. Marcus Goodman is a Board Certified Dermatologist by the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology. Here the Doctor has answered some common questions that Bizymoms visitors have about Skin Cancer.
Q. Why should I be concerned about skin cancer?
A. Skin cancer occurs when skin cells start growing abnormally, causing cancerous growths.
Most skin cancers develop on the visible outer layer of the skin (the epidermis), particularly in sun-exposed areas (face, head, hands, arms, and legs). They are usually easy to detect by examining the skin, which increases the chances of early treatment and survival.
Q. What is the most common type of skin cancer?
• Basal cell carcinoma (also called BCC) comes from the basal cells in lowest part of the epidermis. 80-85% percent of skin cancers are BCCs.
• Squamous cell carcinoma (also called SCC) comes from the skin cells (keratinocytes) that make up the top layers of the skin. About 10% of skin cancers are SCC.
• Melanoma comes from skin cells called melanocytes, which create pigment called melanin that gives skin its color. 5% of all skin cancers are melanoma. Although less common, it is a very dangerous type of skin cancer and is the leading cause of death from skin disease.
Q. What are the early warning signs of skin cancer?
A. The best protection against skin cancer is to minimize sun exposure, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you do go out in the sun, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher that protects against UVA and UVB), making sure to cover the head, lips, hands, neck, and ears. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing. Not only will this dramatically decrease your risk of skin cancer, but it will prevent other sun-damaging conditions, like wrinkles and actinic keratoses.
While everyone should minimize their exposure to the sun, fair-skinned people, outdoor workers, and residents of sunny climates should use particular caution.
Another effective weapon against skin cancer is regular self-exams of your skin. Get to know the landscape of your skin, and take an inventory of all moles.
Because skin cancer can resemble other skin conditions, be sure to tell your doctor about unusual skin changes or lesions, especially these:
• A sore that comes and goes but never completely heals
• A shiny bump or nodule, especially if it appears pearly or translucent (these can look brown or reddish and resemble a mole)
• A slightly raised pink growth with a crusted depression in the center, possibly with tiny blood vessels (capillaries) visible on the surface
• A patch of skin that is red or irritated, especially on the chest, shoulders, or limbs
• A white or yellow-ish waxy scar with poorly defined borders
If you have any risk factors, such as prolonged sun exposure, family history, or a past cancerous lesion, you may benefit from having your skin checked regularly by your doctor.
Tanning booths increase the risk of developing skin cancer, despite any claims of their being a safe alternative to natural sunlight. The skin doesn’t tan unless it is first damaged by UV radiation. Intentional tanning should be avoided like any health hazard, such as smoking.
Q. How is basal cell carcinoma treated?
A. In general, the treatment plan is based on the risk of the cancer spreading to another location or growing again (recurring) in the same location. Cancers that are likely to spread or recur are treated more aggressively.
Treatment options include:
• Aldara (imiquimod) Cream, 5%
• 5-fluorouracil (Efudex, Carac)
A small amount of liquid nitrogen is used to "freeze" away the lesion.
The tumor is scraped off using a sharp-edged device called a curette. The surrounding skin is then cauterized (heated) to prevent bleeding and further remove the tumor.
The tumor is surgically removed along with a small portion of surrounding skin. This usually requires stitches to control bleeding and close the wound.
A specialized surgery that removes the tumor in stages. Each portion of removed tissue is examined under a microscope to make sure that cancerous cells have been removed while sparing as much normal skin as possible.
Radiation and chemotherapy may be recommended in cases when the cancer has spread, or when other medical conditions prevent the use of other treatments.
Q. How can we contact Dr. Goodman if we have further questions?
Address:Address: Goodman Dermatology, P.C.
2500 Hospital Blvd, Suite #150
Roswell, GA 30076;