May was Skin Cancer Awareness Month and with all the talk about skin cancer, it was a good reminder about examining your skin. Now that June is here we just wanted to remind you that early detection is a year round responsibility and is important in treating skin cancer.
Know your body, so you can recognize changes and possible Melanomas. Full body skin examinations- screening skin for benign or cancerous lesions- are essential for optimum health maintenance. Half of melanomas are first identified by patients themselves. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an annual full body exam to allow early detection of treatment. An important part of prevention is mole tracking with the ABCDE danger signs: A=asymmetry, B=irregular border, C=irregular color, D=increase in diameter, E=evolution or changes in the mole. A Body Mole Map is available through the American Academy of Dermatology website.
Check your skin several times a year if you have multiple risk factors such as excessive exposure to the sun, tanning bed use, or a history of precancerous skin lesions, cancer or frequent sun burns.
Only about one third of the population performs self-exams for the signs of skin cancer and a significant number of those people are unable to see or recognize suspicious lesions on their own.
Know what to look for
When you are tracking your mole , know what a healthy mole looks like vs. a mole to be concerned about. Here are some pictures for your reference, but a visit to your Dermatologist is important for a thorough evaluation of any areas of concern.
A Heathly, Normal Mole (above)- Most of the population has these somewhere on their bodies. If your mole is symmetrical, uniform in color, smaller than a pencil eraser and hasn’t changed in the last few years-it should not be of any concern.
Atypical Mole-Dysplastic Nevus
Atypical Mole (above)- could become cancerous. These “dysplastic nevi” often have uneven borders and are dark in color. These are not malignant but should be watched carefully.
Actinic Keratosis (above)- could be cancerous. These patches feel scaly and rough and are often found in areas that are frequently exposed to the sun (ears, scalp, shoulders, backs of hands, etc.)
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) (above)-Cancerous. BCC is the most common of all skin cancers and often appears as a shiny bump, raised pink or red spot or a sore that won’t heal.
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) (above)- Cancerous. SCC is the second most dangerous type of skin cancer and it is fast growing. These look like scaly patches or warts and may bleed.
Melanoma-(above) Cancerous. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. These are unevenly shaped with irregular borders and can be multi-colored, though they are often brown or black.
* photos courtesy of the Melanoma Education Foundation, the skin cancer foundation, the Asarch Center for Dermatology and Laser & NYU Medical Center School of Dermatology
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Asarch if you are concerned about your risk of skin cancer by calling 303-761-7797
WHAT IF I HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED ALREADY?
If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, then you have probably heard of the Mohs Micrographic Surgery which we discussed in our previous blog “Do You Know About Mohs?”. Mohs surgery is unique and effective because of the way the removed tissue is microscopically examined, evaluating 100% of the surgical margins.
In our practice, the pathologic interpretation of the tissue margins is done on site by Dr. Asarch, who is specially trained in the reading of these slides and is best able to correlate any microscopic findings with the surgical site on the patient. Advantages of Mohs surgery include:
- Ensuring complete cancer removal during surgery, virtually eliminating the chance of the cancer growing back
- Minimizing the amount of healthy tissue lost
- Maximizing the functional and cosmetic outcome resulting from surgery
- Repairing the site of the cancer the same day the cancer is removed, in most cases
- Curing skin cancer when other methods have failed
Other skin cancer treatment methods blindly estimate the amount of tissue to treat, which can result in the unnecessary removal of healthy skin tissue and tumor re-growth if any cancer is missed. Make an appointment with us today to find out if you’ a candidate for this highly-effective procedure.