What is a Skin Cancer Screening?
The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that 20% of Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. This high incidence of skin cancer means routine skin exams are crucial, especially when you have a family or personal history of skin cancer. Early detection is essential to accessing more treatment choices with better outcomes. In addition to many innovative skin cancer procedures, our board-certified dermatologists offer comprehensive skin cancer screenings and biopsies of abnormal skin cells. To schedule a skin cancer screening, please contact Clear Lake Dermatology in League City and Webster, TX.
What Are the Types of Skin Cancer?
During your skin cancer screening, our dermatologist will look for signs of four different types of skin cancer:
- Actinic Keratoses (AK): This kind of skin cancer tends to occur in people over the age of 40 around areas of the skin that have been exposed to excessive sunlight — such as the head, throat, hands, and arms. AKs appear as dry, scaly spots and are commonly deemed precancerous because they have the potential to develop into squamous cell carcinoma.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): This most common kind of cancer can develop anywhere on the body and may look like a pink spot or as a flesh-colored or pearl-like bulge. It's critical to treat BCC because it has the potential to spread into bones and nerves, resulting in disfigurement and damage.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): This is the second most common kind of skin cancer. Developing on the skin that receives the most sun exposure, SCC looks like red, firm bumps, scaly spots, or sores that frequently reopen. We need to remove these spots to reduce the chance of damage and disfigurement.
- Melanoma: This sort of cancer appears suddenly as a dark spot on the skin. We use the ABCDE method to detect melanoma: Asymmetry, Border, Color, and Diameter, Evolution. Based on information from the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma accounts for just 1% of skin cancer overall but for the majority of skin cancer deaths. For this reason, melanoma should be treated quickly once it is diagnosed.
Skin Cancer Screenings Reviews
Am I at Risk of Skin Cancer?
People of all ages can get skin cancer. While those with fairer complexions are at greater risk, all skin types and tones can get skin cancer. We recommend every patient perform regular self-checks of their skin so they know what is normal and when a spot changes. You should schedule a skin exam anytime you feel concerned about a spot on your skin that changes, itches, or bleeds. If you or a close relative have been diagnosed with skin cancer, then we highly recommend scheduling annual skin cancer screenings.
Early Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer typically occurs on the scalp, face, neck, lips, ears, chest, arms, hands, legs, and any other area of the skin that might be frequently exposed to direct sunlight. However, that doesn't mean it can't occur elsewhere. In fact, some patients are diagnosed with skin cancer on their palms, under their fingernails, or in the area of their genitals. It can affect people of all skin tones, including those with darker tones where signs of skin cancer might be harder to spot.
Typically, one of the first symptoms of skin cancer is an unusual growth or sore that does not subside. This could be an abscess, rash, or an abnormal patch of skin that may be raised, ooze, or bleed. This skin irregularity will likely grow as the cancer grows deeper and deeper into the skin. There are many types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, all of which can be incredibly hard to differentiate to the untrained eye. Fortunately, our dermatologists are experts in identifying even the earliest signs of skin cancer to get our patients onto a treatment plan as soon as possible.
How Can I Check My Skin for Cancer?
During your skin exam, we'll check your entire body for birthmarks, moles, and any other abnormal growths. Our dermatologists can create a mole map to indicate potential areas of concern and to easily identify new moles at future screenings. We'll explain how to perform self-exams in between your visits.
Sometimes, we might perform a biopsy of a suspicious mole or spot. To do so, we'll first numb your skin and then shave off a small sample that we send to a pathology lab for evaluation. After we get the pathology report, we'll contact you about your results.
What to Expect During a Skin Cancer Exam
Following your exam, we'll talk to you about your skin and make recommendations. Our dermatologists will also let you know when you should return for your next skin cancer screening.
If you require a biopsy of an abnormal area, there is a risk of scarring. We'll do our best to minimize the appearance of scarring and take the smallest skin sample possible. To help your skin heal correctly, our dermatologists will discuss the best way to care for your skin following a biopsy. With good care, any scars should feel flat and fade so that it's barely noticeable.
Skin Cancer Screenings FAQ
What are the ABCD's of skin cancer?
The ABCD's of skin cancer include:
Cancerous moles often appear with an irregular shape where one side differs from the others. They may also have jagged or blurred borders and have different shades of black, brown, or tan. Moles of concern are also larger than 6 mm in diameter.
When should I get a skin cancer screening?
Clear Lake Dermatology recommends a skin cancer screening once or twice a year; however, if you notice any changes in moles or lesions, you should get a screening.
When is a biopsy necessary?
If a mole appears suspicious, then often, we'll take a biopsy. This test will help confirm whether or not cancer is present since cancer can't be detected by a visual examination alone.
If skin cancer is identified, what is the next step in treatment?
The first step in addressing skin cancer is a screening and biopsy. If cancer is detected, the typical treatment is to remove the cancer to keep it from spreading. Our board-certified dermatologists offer various skin cancer treatments, including cryosurgery, electrodesiccation, and Mohs surgery.
Plan Your Procedure
- How Long It Takes
- 20 minutes
Early Detection is the Key
Knowing your risk factors and early detection are both keys to successfully treating skin cancer. For Greater Houston area patients who need a skin cancer screening, please contact one of our offices in League City or Webster, TX. Whether you're already visiting us for cosmetic treatments, are at an elevated risk for developing skin cancer, or have concerns about an abnormal growth on your skin, schedule a skin cancer screening at Clear Lake Dermatology.
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