Summer may be over but skin damage is here to stay!
Skin Cancer: What Should I Be Looking For?
You might wonder how can a dermatologist save a life – right?! The answer skin cancers – we find them, we treat them, and, working with our patients, we can make the difference between life and… not.
So what should you be looking for? There are a few easy guidelines to help you. Any sore that does not heal, ulcerates or starts to grow can be suspicious for skin cancer. Scaly rough spots can be actinic keratosis (pre cancers) and also need to be evaluated. Additionally, moles that are asymmetric in their color, shape, borders or are growing fast can be worrisome. Look at your skin closely – be proactive! Make sure you know the ABCDE of spotting dangerous skin changes.
As always, dermatologists are the experts – if you are not sure, just ask us! To contact Dr. Kormeili’s office for a prompt appointment, just click here.
Below is a bit more information about the types of skin cancers and what you might want to know about them.
Types of Skin Tumors
There are many types of skin tumors. The most common three include:
-basal cell carcinoma
-squamous cell carcinoma
Each of these cancers originates from a different layer of the skin.
Let’s start with the most dangerous: Melanomas. Melanocytes are the cells that turn malignant in melanomas. Melanocytes migrate to the skin from the neurocrest during embryogenesis. They are responsible for the color of our skin and moles. Melanomas can be “de novo” which means they start off as melanoma cancers or they can result of malignant changes within an already existing mole. Moles can become “dysplastic” which means they do not look completely healthy under the microscope, but not a true cancer yet. Though there is some controversy, most dermatologists believe that dysplastic moles can become further mutated and turn into melanomas. The gold standard of treatment for melanomas is surgery.
Basal cell carcinoma comes from the basal cells of the epidermis. They are the least aggressive of the skin tumors listed above. Most lesions never metastasize (which means to leave the skin and disseminate within the body). Basal cell skin cancers are usually described as “pearly” because of their shiny surface with dilated blood vessels on top.
Squamous cell carcinoma comes from the squamous cell layer of the epidermis. Squamous cells have the potential to invade deeper and have a higher potential for metastasis. Patients with poor immunity, organ transplants and those who get squamous cell cancers on the lip, mucosa or within an old scar (Marjolin ulcer) are especially at risk for more aggressive tumors. Actinic keratosis (scaly red spots) are pre-skin cancers that, if left untreated, can turn into squamous cell carcinomas. Squamous cell carcinomas often present as non-healing sores, scaly plaques or bumps.
Basal cell carcinomas and Squamous cell carcinomas can be treated in various ways from topical treatments, curettage and desiccation, to surgery and Mohs surgery, depending on the size, location, tumor type, and other factors.
Again, only a qualified medical professional can evaluate whether a skin cancer exists. Please know that this website is for informational purposes only, and you deserve a personal medical evaluation to determine the best treatment for your skin! Please contact Dr. Kormeili’s office to schedule a consultation or your routine skin cancer check!