Skin cancer is incredibly common; 1 in every 5 Americans develop some form of skin cancer by age 70. Any type of skin cancer needs treatment, but the two most common types — basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma — are relatively easily treated before they cause complications.
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. Even this form, when detected early, has an incredibly high survival rate.
So, early detection is the key to preventing complications from skin cancer, including scarring, spread to other organs, and even death. At The Aesthetic Surgery Center, our surgeon Elliott H. Rose, MD, recommends annual professional skin checks and monthly self checks. Here’s his thinking behind these recommendations.
Benefits of monthly self skin checks
Regularly checking your own skin is one of the best ways to notice suspicious lesions that may indicate skin cancer. You may see a crusty growth with irregular borders, a painful patch of skin that itches or burns, or a changing mole.These can appear just about anywhere on your body, but are often most common in the sun-exposed areas of your face, arms, chest, and shoulders.
If you see any suspicious lesions, contact your dermatologist immediately. They can accurately diagnose any form of skin cancer by taking a biopsy of the lesion and sending it to a lab.
Benefits of yearly professional checks
While self-checks are important — after all, you know your body best — yearly professional dermatological checks are also important. At these visits, your doctor can evaluate areas that are hard for you to see. These include the back, buttocks, between the toes, the scalp, and behind the ears.
More frequent skin checks for high-risk patients
Patients at a high risk of developing skin cancer may benefit from scheduling more frequent skin checks. Your risk of developing melanoma increases by 75% from just one indoor tanning session before age 35. Having five or more severe sunburns in a lifetime doubles your risk of melanoma.
Other risk factors include:
- Fair skin type
- Red or light colored hair
- Family history of skin cancer
- Atypical moles
Using a broad spectrum sunscreen of 15+, seeking shade whenever possible, and wearing protective clothing, like hats and sunglasses, help protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. .
Implications of skin cancer
No one wants cancer. But, if you get it, it’s best to find it early and have it treated before it causes serious complications.
Mohs surgery is the gold standard for skin cancer removal, especially when the lesions are located in delicate areas, like the eyelids, ears, or genitals.
Dr. Rose works with specialists in the area to conduct this procedure that involves removing a layer of cancer and then examining it under a microscope. Your surgeon continues to remove just one layer at a time until no cancer is left. Dr. Rose helps by providing any reconstructive surgery following a successful Mohs operation.
In serious cases, skin cancer can lead to disfigurement or death. It’s projected that 7,990 people will die of melanoma in 2023.
Contact your dermatologist to schedule your regular yearly skin checks. If you have cosmetic complications from skin cancer, we are ready to help. Dr. Rose is an accomplished plastic surgeon who can revise skin cancer scars. Please call our office today or use the online tool to schedule your virtual or in-office appointment.