Posts for tag: Skin Cancer
As summer approaches, the thought of basking in the sun may sound more than appealing, especially after a long winter. However, taking care to ensure you protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays and learning to identify skin cancer in its earliest stages is essential to your health. Find out more about skin cancer and its symptoms with Dr. Vernon Thomas Mackey at Advanced Desert Dermatology in Peoria, AZ.
What is skin cancer?
Cancer itself occurs when cells in the body begin to divide rapidly without stopping, forming a growth called a tumor. Skin cancer occurs when the cells in the skin begin dividing and cause tumors. These cells produce what appears to be a mole. However, cancerous moles have a slightly different appearance than healthy moles. Learning how to spot these differences can help you identify and treat skin cancer in its earliest, most curable stages.
The ABCDEs of Identifying Skin Cancer
Using the ABCDEs can help you determine whether you have an abnormal mole.
- Asymmetrical: Regular moles have a symmetrical shape and are the same on both sides. Cancerous moles are asymmetrical and do not appear to be fluid in shape.
- Border: The border of a normal mole is smooth and round or ovular. Cancerous moles tend to have jagged or oddly-shaped borders.
- Color: A normal mole is pink to brown in color and has only one color within its borders. Cancerous moles may have two or more colors.
- Diameter: The diameter of a normal mole is about 6 millimeters or less. A mole over 6 millimeters, or about the size of a pencil eraser, should be examined by your dermatologist.
- Evolution: Normal moles do not change in size, shape, or color. Cancerous moles evolve and change in shape, color, or size, often quickly or over the period of a few months.
Skin Cancer Treatments in Peoria, AZ
Treating skin cancer varies from patient to patient and depends on the size, severity, and location of the cancerous cells. The most common treatment for skin cancer is to remove the cancerous mole and the skin around it. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may also be necessary. Your doctor can help you ensure that you have the best treatment for your condition.
For more information on skin cancer or its early detection, please contact Dr. Mackey at Advanced Desert Dermatology in Peoria, AZ. Call (623) 977-6700 to schedule your skin examination today!
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lives. Skin cancers are generally curable if caught early; however, people who have had skin cancer in the past are at a higher risk of developing a new skin cancer. Regular self-examinations and visits to your dermatologist are imperative to the health of your skin.
The good news is that you can easily protect yourself and your family from skin cancer. If you catch it early enough, as well, it can be successfully treated. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet rays. The sun is the source for much of this exposure, but can also come from man-made sources, such as indoor tanning lamps.
Detection and Prevention
It is important to monitor your skin in order to properly detect any signs of skin cancer. The key to detecting skin cancers is to monitor your skin for any changes. Even the slightest change should be taken seriously. When monitoring your skin, look for:
- Large brown spots with darker speckles located anywhere on the body
- Dark lesions on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, fingertips, toes, mouth, nose or genitalia
- Translucent pearly and dome-shaped growths
- Existing moles that begin to grow, itch or bleed
- Brown or black streaks under the nails
- A sore that repeatedly heals and re-opens
- Clusters of slow-growing scaly lesions that are pink or red
In addition, the American Academy of Dermatology developed a guide for assessing whether or not a mole or other lesion may become cancerous. This is referred to as the ABCDE guide:
Roughly 90% of non-melanoma cancers are attributed to UV radiation from the sun. Stay out of the sun during peak hours and cover up your arms and legs with protective clothing or sunscreen. Also, check your skin monthly and contact your dermatologist if you notice any changes. If any changes do occur, make an appointment to see your dermatologist immediately. Your dermatologist will be able to assess and diagnose your skin early to begin healing.
Skin cancer often causes only subtle changes in your skin in the earliest stages. Unfortunately, if the cancer isn't diagnosed promptly, it can worsen and spread. Our Peoria, AZ, dermatologist, Dr. Vernon Mackey, shares a few signs of early skin cancer and discusses treatment options.
Squamous cell carcinoma symptoms
Do you have a painful, red, flaky spot that just won't go away? That spot may actually be a squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer affects the cells in the middle and outer layers cells of your skin. Sun exposure can increase your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. The cancer may appear on areas of your body that have been exposed to the sun, such as your face, ears, back of hands and ears, but may also show up on your genitals or in your mouth.
Basal cell carcinoma symptoms
Basal cell carcinoma affects the deep layers of your skin and may also be caused by years of sun exposure. If you have basal cell carcinoma, you may develop:
- Sores that don't heal or come back. (Non-cancerous sores should heal in about a week.)
- Flat, firm areas that look like scars
- Raised bumps that are pink or pearly white with depressed centers
- Pigmented pearly bumps that resemble moles
Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, affects more than 87,000 people a year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Symptoms of melanoma include:
- New moles
- Asymmetrical moles
- Moles that have irregular or blurred edges
- Moles that are more than one color or contain blue, pink, red or white colors
- Bleeding or scaly moles
- Moles that are larger than a pencil eraser
- Sores that don't heal
How is skin cancer treated?
Skin cancer may be removed using one or more of these methods offered by our Peoria office, including:
- Topical Medications: A medicated cream is used to stimulate your immune system to attack and kill cancerous cells in the outer layers of your skin.
- Cryosurgery: Liquid nitrogen removes tumors by freezing them.
- Surgical Excision: Surgical excision involves removing the cancerous cells with a scalpel.
- Mohs Micrographic Surgery: During this surgery, a single layer of skin is removed at a time, then examined under a microscope. Another layer of skin is removed if cancerous cells are found in the first layer. The process continues until there are no traces of the cancer. Mohs surgery requires less destruction of healthy skin and produces a much smaller scar than surgical excision.
- Radiation Therapy: In some cases, radiation may be needed to treat hard-to-reach or persistent cancers.
Early treatment can help you avoid serious skin cancer complications. If you're concerned about a suspicious spot or mole, call our Peoria, AZ, dermatologist, Dr. Mackey, at (623) 977-6700 to schedule an appointment.
Your skin is your body's most prominent organ, making it essential to properly care for it, especially during the summertime when UV levels can wreak havoc on exposed skin. While basking in the sun can feel sensational, the effects of sun exposure may not be as agreeable over time. When you decide to hit up the beach in your new swimsuit, your dermatologist urges you to take extra precautions to protect your skin.
Many beach and pool goers often complain of sunburn, which is a visible reaction of the skin’s exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, the invisible rays that are part of sunlight. Signs of sunburn may not appear for a few hours and the full effect to your skin may take up to 24 hours to appear, but when you have a sunburn, you will know it! Ultraviolet rays can also cause invisible damage to the skin. Excessive or multiple sunburns cause premature aging of the skin and can lead to skin cancer. According to your dermatologist, some of the most common symptoms of sunburn include:
- Swelling of the skin
- Dry, itching and peeling skin days after the burn
Sunburns typically heal on their own in a couple of weeks, but there are ways to alleviate the pain caused by them. It is often recommended that you take a cool bath or gently apply cool, wet compresses to the skin when sunburn develops. You many also take a pain reliever to help with the pain, but it is also important to rehydrate your skin to help reduce swelling by applying aloe.
Visit your dermatologist for more information on how to protect your skin this summer and to find out what to do when you suffer from sunburn. Remember, skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the United States, so protecting your skin this summer can help protect you for a lifetime.
Skin cancer diagnoses are an unfortunate reality for far too many people. Luckily, prompt treatment of the cancers can help you avoid the unpleasant consequences that can occur if skin abnormalities go unnoticed for too long. Dr. Vernon Mackey, your Peoria, AZ dermatologist, explains how you can check yourself for skin cancer.
Make a foot-to-head exam part of your routine
It can be hard to determine exactly when a new spot appeared on your skin or a mole changed its appearance unless you perform a monthly skin cancer screening. Examining your self is easy and just requires a mirror. Follow these steps from your Peoria dermatologist to conduct your own examination:
- Start at the Top: Examine your face for any possible signs of skin cancer, such as new lumps or growths that don't go away, patches of skin that are scaly or red, or moles that change color, shape or texture. Pull your hair back from your head and examine the skin of your head and neck carefully. Use a mirror to look at the back of your neck and scalp.
- Don't Miss a Spot: Work your way down your body, making sure to focus on every inch of skin. Bend your arms to take a look at the back of your forearms. Spread your fingers and examine the skin between your fingers. Use a mirror again to examine your back and buttocks. Don't skip skin folds. You never know when skin cancer may be lurking in one of an out-of-the-way areas.
- Finish Your Exam: Examine your legs and feet, but don't forget to glance at the back of your knees and the area between your toes.
A few tips to make the process easier
- Partner Up: Your spouse or partner can help you make sure you don't miss any of those spots that are hard to see. After they help you conduct your exam, you can return the favor.
- Take a Selfie: Although you probably won't want to share these selfies with anyone, comparing photographs can help you spot changes in your skin more easily.
- Make a Date: You'll never forget to perform your skin cancer exam if you schedule it for the same day every month.
Are you concerned about a new spot or a changing mole? Call Dr. Mackey, your Peoria, AZ dermatologist, at (623) 977-6700 to schedule an appointment.