With any skin cancer, early detection and diagnosis are key to achieving the best possible clinical outcome.

Skin Cancer

 

Skin cancers are the most common cancers affecting humans, with several million cases of skin cancer occurring each year.  The most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prevention

 

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the primary cause for most skin cancers.  Thus, protection from excessive sun exposure can prevent both precancerous lesions and skin cancers.  It is important to avoid excessive sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest.  Also, using adequate amounts of a broad-spectrum sunblock or sunscreen is important.  This should be applied every few hours to exposed areas of skin when outside.  Choose a product that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.  In addition to sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and polarized sunglasses are also important components of one’s defense against sun damage.            

 

 

Detection

 

In addition to regular skin examinations by your dermatologist, you can also check your skin on a regular basis.  Being aware of changes in your skin will increase the likelihood that a skin cancer is found early.       

 

Using the “ABCDE rule” is an easy way to remember what constitutes concerning features in skin lesions: 

 

  • Asymmetry-Lesions lacking symmetry.

  • Borders-Lesions with irregular borders.

  • Color-Lesions with color variation or that include very dark black, blue, red or white are more concerning than lesions that are an even color throughout.

  • Diameter-Lesions larger than 6 mm or the end of a pencil eraser. 

  • Evolution-Lesions that are changing.

 

Noticing a lesion with any of these criteria does not mean that it is a skin cancer, but it should be brought to the attention of your dermatologist for further evaluation and possible biopsy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treatment

 

Mohs surgery is the most effective treatment for basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers.  It is best used for more aggressive tumors or tumors located in cosmetically sensitive areas of the body where tissue sparing is important.  However not all skin cancers are appropriately treated with Mohs surgery.  For lower risk tumors, a number of other treatment options exist.  One of the more common options is a standard surgical excision, where the cancer is surgically removed along with a margin of normal tissue and sent to a pathologist for verification that all of the tumor has been removed.   In addition, there are other techniques that physically destroy tumor tissue (electrodessication and curettage as well as cryosurgery). 

 

Click here for more information on Mohs micrographic surgery.

 

 

 

 

With any skin cancer, early detection and diagnosis are key to achieving the best possible clinical outcome.

  • The American Cancer Society estimates that over 3.5 million non-melanoma skin cancers will occur this year.
 
  • Over 76,600 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed this year.