The diagnosis, treatment , prevention and follow up of skin cancer is one of the major focuses of my practice. One in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Risk factors include fair skin, light eye color, family history of skin cancer, and a history of sunburns and frequent sun exposure. Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.
The most common forms of skin cancer are:
- Actinic Keratosis - Sun-induced precancerous lesions can be treated in many different ways including liquid nitrogen application and fluorouracil.
- Basal cell carcinoma - Represents 80 - 85% of all skin cancers. They usually appear as pink pearly spots that grow slowly. They frequently have a history of bleeding easily and then healing.
- Squamous cell carcinoma - 10% of all skin cancers. These start as rough scaly actinic keratoses which later become thicker and firmer in texture. The face, ears, upper chest and arms are the most frequent locations.
- Melanoma - 5% of all skin cancers. This is the most serious form of skin cancer. It usually appears as a dark, enlarging, irregular shaped mole. The most frequent locations are on the back in men and the legs in women. People with many moles and fair skin are at higher risk.
Skin cancers can vary in shape, color, size and texture, so any new, changing or suspicious growth should be examined immediately by a dermatologist. Early intervention is essential in the successful treatment of skin cancer.