What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is a word that refers to a malignant growth on the skin that has the potential to spread if not removed. Skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds.
In the United States, skin cancer is the most frequent type of cancer. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma are diagnosed in around 3.5 million people each year. Numerous others have precancerous lesions that may develop into cancer. However, skin cancers can be cured if detected and treated early.
Skin cancer screening tests
Skin cancer screening is crucial for the early detection of melanoma and other skin cancers. Skin cancer screening tests are the most effective approach to identify melanoma and other types of skin cancer on the body.
People with a family history of skin cancer, who live in sunny areas, who got a blistering sunburn as a child, or who have fair skin may benefit from having their risk of developing melanoma or other skin cancers assessed. If your doctor determines that you have a family history of melanoma or live in a high-risk area for skin cancer and plan to spend time outside this summer, you may need more frequent tests.
The doctor will inspect all regions of your skin, including any exposed areas, during a skin cancer screening exam. There are two primary forms of skin cancer examinations: visual and physical.
Visual examinations examine your skin for worrisome patches, moles, or lesions using a magnifying lens. Before you leave the office, the doctor may take photographs or take samples from worrisome areas.
- Physical examinations need the doctor to feel or touch your skin with his or her fingers, a pen, or other equipment. The doctor will palpate (feel) for any lumps or bumps that could be symptoms of skin cancer, as well as for rough patches of skin or anything unusual about your skin’s texture.
- Since melanoma can grow anywhere on the body, doctors recommend undergoing a whole body visual examination and physical examination every year, even if you do not have risk factors for developing this type of cancer.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
If melanoma has not gone beyond the skin by the time it is identified, it has a 90% five-year survival rate. However, if cancer spreads to other parts of the body, that percentage reduces to 15%, according to the ACS.
The good news is that routine screenings can detect melanoma early — even before cancer develops symptoms.
While the majority of persons with melanoma have a history of sunburns or tanning bed use, neither of these factors is required to develop this deadly form of skin cancer. Unfortunately, some melanomas do not appear as expected. That is why dermatologists recommend that you have your moles routinely evaluated by a physician who specializes in skin cancer screenings.
If you detect an unusual spot on your skin — or anything that is not normal for you — call your doctor immediately.
Determining your skin cancer risk
You may be at an increased risk of developing skin cancer if you:
- Are over the age of 40
- Have moles on your body
- Have suffered from one or more severe sunburns as a child or adolescent
- Regularly spend time outside
Skin cancer testing can save a person’s life. Early detection allows patients to receive essential therapy in a less invasive manner, preserving more good skin.
The greatest way to avoid skin cancer and reduce your risk of non-melanoma skin cancer is to consult a dermatologist regularly. Recognizing it early is beneficial. In the meantime, feel free to visit our blog frequently with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have. To make an appointment, please contact the Dermatology Center of Northwest Houston today!