Skin cancer is a common and often very treatable type of cancer that affects millions of people every year. While some types are slow-growing and rarely life-threatening, others can be dangerous. We recommend seeking the opinion of a dermatologist any time you notice something unusual happening on your skin.
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer occurs when skin cells begin to divide abnormally. Skin cancer can occur in different layers of the skin (squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas) or in pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. Squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas generally grow slowly, but if ignored, they can become large enough to be harmful and can even metastasize (travel from the skin to elsewhere in the body). Melanoma, the skin cancer that forms from melanocytes, can be very dangerous if not caught early. With early diagnosis, most skin cancers can be treated with a simple surgical procedure.
What are the Warning Signs of Skin Cancer?
The appearance of skin cancer can vary widely, but you can look out for some common factors that you might notice. The most common warning signs of skin cancer include:
A new mole or a change in an existing mole
A sore that doesn’t heal
A rough or scaly patch of skin
A red or discolored patch of skin
A growth or lump on the skin
It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other benign conditions, so it is always best to have any suspicious spots checked by a dermatologist at Krauss Dermatology.
You should take particular note of moles that change in any way. If you notice any of these changes, make sure to have your mole checked right away.
A – an asymmetrical mole
B – a mole with irregular or ragged-looking borders
C- a multicolored mole or one that changes colors
D- a mole with a diameter greater than 6mm
E- a mole that is evolving and changing
Checking your own moles and other spots on a regular basis is a key part of skin cancer prevention. Another important piece is a yearly skin cancer screening, especially for people at high risk (such as those with family history of melanoma, or previous history of melanoma).
If your dermatologist has concerns, they will send a sample to a pathologist to look for cancer. If the pathologist finds cancer cells, your dermatologist will remove the mole or growth with a margin of normal skin around it. Methods for removal include excision, Mohs surgery (where margins are checked in the office to ensure complete removal), or topical treatments that kill cancer cells.
What is Recovery Like After Skin Cancer Treatment?
In most cases, you will have minimal recovery time. You may have sutures and need to limit movement in the affected area for a few days to a few weeks. You may need to limit intense exercise during the initial healing period. When a dermatologist treats skin cancer early, removal is straightforward, and recovery is minimal.
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If you have further questions about skin cancer warning signs, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with one of the board-certified dermatologists at Krauss Dermatology. Call us at (781) 416-3500 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to taking care of you.