We value the health and beauty of our patients’ skin. Our team of experienced dermatologists has a wealth of specialized training to provide the highest standard of dermatologic care. We are proud to offer comprehensive skin cancer screenings and treatment options in our comfortable Miami office.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is a disease in which abnormal, malignant cells develop in the skin. This is the only type of cancer that is visible to the naked eye. There are three common types of skin cancer, each named for the cells that mutate.
Skin Cancer Types
Basal Cell Carcinoma
- Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer found in people with light complexions. This cancer develops in the basal cell layer of the skin and is often found on the face or another part of the body that has been exposed to the sun.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma occurs in the squamous cells of the skin. It is often found on the legs or feet of people with darker skin. People with lighter skin may develop squamous cell carcinoma on the face, ears, neck, or head as a result of sun exposure.
- Melanoma is a dangerous and aggressive form of skin cancer that can develop anywhere on the body, including mucous linings (eyes, vagina, anus). This type of skin cancer develops in the melanocytes, the cells that add pigment to the skin.
Basal cell carcinoma does not spread to other areas. Both squamous cell carcinomas and melanoma can spread. However, when found early, skin cancer is very curable.
What are the risk factors for developing skin cancer?
People with lighter complexions have a higher risk of developing skin cancer. However, the most influential factors apply to everyone. These include spending a lot of time in the sun, using tanning beds, or live in an area where the sunlight is intense.
Who is at risk for skin cancer?
Any of the following risk factors could contribute to developing skin cancer at some point over the course of your life. Speak with a dermatologist and undergo regular skin check-ups if you have:
- Fair skin/light colored skin
- A tendency to sunburn
- Living in a warm/sunny climate
- Having moles on your body
- Having precancerous skin lesions
- Being exposed to radiation
What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
The symptoms of skin cancer are unique to the type of skin cancer a person may have. It is important to know the signs of the three most common types of skin cancer.
- Basal cell carcinomas may look like an innocent bump or red spot on the skin. This type of growth may ooze or crust, bleed easily, look like a crater with a sunken center, have visible blood vessels around it, or may look like a sore that persists or heals and then returns.
- Squamous cell carcinomas often look like a red raised lesion that has a scale on the surface. As the growth progresses, it may look like an open sore that will not heal. If not treated, squamous cell cancer cells can spread to other areas.
- Melanoma can look like a black, brown, or multi-colored mole or spot. This most concerning type of skin cancer usually has irregular or blurred borders and an odd shape. Melanoma typically does not look like other moles on the body.
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
Studies show that 40% of patients discover their skin cancer. This is why the American Academy of Dermatology recommends regular self-examinations for all people. When an abnormal growth or change to an existing mole or growth is discovered, a dermatologist performs a thorough evaluation that includes visual observation of skin characteristics and a biopsy. A skin biopsy obtains a small sample of tissue for microscopic examination. A pathologist examines the tissue for cellular abnormality that indicates cancer.
The ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer
For early detection of Melanoma, follow the ABCDEs of Skin Cancer
UNEVEN SHAPE OR PATTERN
OUTER EDGES UNEVEN
ARK BLACK OR MULTIPLE COLORS
DARK BLACK OR MULTIPLE COLORS
What are the first signs of skin cancer?
Things to look for while giving yourself a skin cancer screening include:
- Changes in your skin’s color in an area
- Changes in the shape of freckles or moles
- Large brown spot with small speckles inside
- Painful, itchy, or burning skin
Dark areas of the skin, especially in the following areas:
- Palms of your hands
- Bottom of your feet
- Inside your mouth
- Inside your nose
- Near or around genitals
How treatable is skin cancer?
When detected early, most skin cancers are very treatable. The most common conditions, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, tend to grow slowly and remain localized in the skin, where they can be removed with excision or pharmaceutical treatments. Even melanoma is relatively easy to identify and treat when addressed early. However, melanoma grows more quickly than other skin cancers and can spread to adjacent tissues and other parts of the body. If this occurs, more comprehensive treatment is necessary to destroy cancer cells and decrease the risk of recurrence.
How is skin cancer treated?
There are several treatment options for skin cancer patients. A dermatologist recommends treatment based on several factors, including the stage of skin cancer, size, location, type, and risk of recurrence. Surgical excision or Mohs micrographic surgery is often recommended to physically remove cancerous lesions. Additional treatments may be advisable to eradicate any cancer cells that may remain. Our physicians carefully explain patients’ choices for treatment based on their unique needs.
How can I prevent skin cancer?
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to practice good sun habits. Experts advise that we should never use tanning beds due to the intensity of UV light emitted from artificial sources. It is also recommended that people of all skin tones and types apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 every day, regardless of sunshine. Additionally, adults should check their skin regularly to become familiar with their moles and markings. Professional skin cancer screenings performed by a dermatologist should be obtained every year.
What To Expect from Skin Cancer Treatments
The goal of skin cancer treatment is to eradicate all abnormal cells in the affected area. Patients can expect their doctor to inform them of the nuances of their recommended treatment, including what happens during the procedure, how medication, if used, will affect the skin, and what degree of follow-up is needed after cancer has been successfully removed.
Can skin cancer go away on its own?
While some skin cancers could potentially shrink or go away on their own over time, you should never ignore a suspicious skin growth or lesion. Visit your dermatologist to have any suspicious skin spots checked or if you want to learn more about preventing skin cancer. To get you started, here are some of the things you can do to prevent skin cancer from occurring to begin with:
- Preventing Skin Cancer
- Visit your dermatologist regularly and whenever you have a skin concern
- Perform regular skin self-exams
- Wear sunscreen any time you are outside
- Avoid sun exposure between 10am and 4pm (this is the time the sun is the strongest)
- Don’t use tanning beds
- Be careful when taking photosensitive/sun-sensitive medications (e.g., some malaria medications)
- Use protective covering and clothing
Schedule a Skin Cancer Screening Today
If you are experiencing symptoms of skin cancer or need a screening, visit Kendall Dermatology at our Kendall, Florida dermatology office. We offer a comprehensive range of skincare treatments, including the latest clinical and cosmetic dermatology procedures. Our office is home to skilled dermatologists and licensed estheticians. Contact our office by calling 305.595.0393 or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment anytime.