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.