Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, but luckily is also one of the most easily treatable if caught early. It’s important at all ages to protect yourself from the sun, avoiding overexposure and wearing sunscreen every day. If you are in the sun a lot, regular screenings for cancer are valuable in order to catch any skin abnormalities before they spread or become worse.
Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
Along with sun exposure, tanning booths can also increase your risk, as well as exposure to radiation and high altitudes. Keep a close eye out for any changes in the skin, especially dark spots or changes to moles. If you find any abnormalities in your skin, alert your doctor immediately so that tests can be performed to determine if skin cancer is present. The earlier it is caught and treated, the better the success rate for treatment.
Other risk factors for a higher chance include having fair skin, hair and eye color. However, people with all skin types are at risk. A history of intense and frequent sunburns, as well as a history in the family, may mean that you are at higher risk for skin cancer. Remember, anyone can develop this condition at any age.
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Types of Conditions
There are three basic forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. Each of these skin cancers has a different look and requires different treatments, so it is vital to talk to Dr. Isaac or another doctor if you experience any abnormal skin conditions.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most prevalent form of skin cancer. It appears as an irregularly shaped blemish or blister that crusts over or bleeds without healing. In some cases, this cancer can cause the lashes of the eyelids to fall out. While this form of cancer is rarely life threatening, failure to treat it in a timely manner can cause serious damage to your tissue and bones.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma often originates on the face and surrounding areas. It can appear as waxy or shiny patches or as small red or white bumps on the skin. If not treated, it can spread to the internal organs and become a life threatening condition.
Malignant melanoma is by far the deadliest form of skin cancer. This form of cancer generally begins within moles. While it occurs less frequently than the other forms of skin cancer, it is more dangerous because, if not treated quickly, it can spread throughout the entire body and can become fatal.
Skin Cancer Treatment Options
In situations where the cancer is relatively small, Dr. Isaac in Washington, DC will surgically excise or destroy the cancerous growth and then reconstruct the area. If the cancer is detected very early, a topical cream can be offered. In more extreme cases, where the cancer is larger or has spread to other areas of the body, measures such as cryosurgery (where the cancer is frozen) or radiation therapy may be recommended. In addition, chemotherapy and Mohs surgery (in which the cancer is taken off in layers while frozen sections are examined to ensure the cancer is removed completely) have been successful in eradicating cancerous cells.
The important thing is to contact your doctor or Dr. Isaac in Washington, DC immediately for a consultation if you feel that you are showing symptoms of any of these conditions. After surgery, it is important to carefully check your skin regularly for recurrences, and you should visit your doctor regularly for routine exams.
Treatment of Precancerous Lesions
Photodynamic therapy, or PDT, can be used effectively to treat precancerous lesions on the skin. PDT is a type of laser treatment that has been shown to treat many kinds of irregularities, including precancerous lesions. PDT is a mild treatment that usually lasts around an hour and a half, but is highly effective. There has been research into using PDT for internal cancers, but for the moment it is only proven effective for precancerous lesions.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If you have noticed any irregularities in your skin that could potentially be cancerous, please don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with a leading dermatologist, like Dr. Melda Isaac! To find out more information about and make an appointment at MI Skin Dermatology Center in Washington, DC, call (202) 393-7546 today!