Here at the Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston, we want to educate our patients on the importance of skin cancer awareness and early detection. Skin cancer screenings should be conducted on a regular basis, so if you haven’t recently been examined, now is the perfect time to get checked. It’s never too early to start having skin cancer screenings, especially if you have fair skin, multiple moles on your body, or if you have a family history of skin cancer.
Skin cancer screenings are visual examinations to check moles, birthmarks, or other skin markers that can be indicators of cancerous tissue. During your examination, we will check any spots that have an abnormal size, color, or texture. If cancer is suspected, we can perform a quick biopsy to see if the tissue needs to be removed.
If you ever wonder what it is that we are looking for during your screening, this is a great model to help outline the red flags we would need to address:
The warning signs of Melanoma (the ABCDE’s):
An uneven shape; one half is unlike the other
Irregular, jagged, or any poorly defined border
Multiple colors vary from one area to another; shades of black, brown, white, tan, blue, or red.
Melanomas are typically greater than 6mm in size, which is roughly the size of a pencil eraser. However, they can sometimes be smaller.
Any change in the mole or skin coloring/lesion that begins to look different from the rest; a change in size, shape, or color
Other types of skin cancer and their warning signs:
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma- This type of cancer is usually found on the areas of the body that have been damaged by UV rays from the sun or tanning beds. Warning signs include:
- Red, firm nodules
- Flat sores with a scaly crust
- Rough, scaly patches on the lip or open sores on the lip
- Red, wart-like sores on or in the anus or genitals
- Red sores or rough areas in the mouth
- New sores or raised patches over an old scar or ulcer
- Basal Cell Carcinoma- This type of skin cancer typically forms on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, like your head and neck. Warning signs include:
- Waxy skin growths: Typically, these appear lumps look almost like a scar, and can range in color from pale white to yellow pigment, and can even be the same color as your skin.
- Sores that bleed easily: These sores are easy to open and difficult to stop bleeding.
- Dome-shaped growth: These can appear as slow-growing, dome-shaped lumps that flatten out over time, may ooze, and leave a crust.
- Eczema-like scales: Basal cell cancer can present itself as a shiny and scaly pink-red patch of skin that grows slowly and is often mistaken for eczema.
- Dysplastic Nevus- These are atypical moles that are noncancerous. These moles may resemble melanoma when using the ABCDE’s, however, they are noncancerous. People who have dysplastic nevus are often at higher risk of developing melanoma or a mole somewhere else on the body.
- Actinic Keratosis- Also known as solar keratosis and is a crusty, scaly growth caused by UV radiation damage. These spots are typically found on the face, lips, ears, bald scalp, shoulders, neck, back of the hands, and forearms.
As it is with any type of cancer, early detection is key. Having regular screenings is important for us to be aware of what is normal for your body so that we can monitor any changes that may indicate the potential or presence of skin cancer. For more information about skin cancer screenings or to schedule your appointment, contact us today.