Patient Education Library
Skin Conditions: Skin Cancer
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer seen in the U.S. and the numbers of people affected are continuing to increase each year. There are three general types of skin cancer.
What causes skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the result of accumulated skin damage to the skin over long periods of time. People with fair skin and little ability to tan are the most susceptible. People who have worked outdoors for many years or get excessive recreational sun exposure are at higher risk. Having had one skin cancer increased your risk of getting more, including all other types of skin cancer. This risk can be decreased by regularly applying a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to the constantly sun-exposed areas of the body, such as the face, neck and arms.
A certain percentage of skin cancers will come back, regardless of the type of surgery performed. Therefore, you should return to our office 3-6 months after removal of a skin cancer so that the area can be examined for possible recurrence, as well as to check for new skin cancers in other locations.
Skin Cancer: The Facts
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. There are over 1 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year; one in five Americans develop skin cancer in a lifetime. Most skin cancers are curable with early detection and treatment, but if left untreated they can be very dangerous. Basal cell carcinomas, the most common form of skin cancer, and squamous cell carcinomas, the second most common form, are two non-melanoma forms of cancer. Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer because it can spread to other parts of the body. Skin lesions are biopsied to verify whether they are cancerous then they can be treated. There are several treatment options dermatologists will perform to treat skin cancers. They can scrape the cancerous cells off the healthy tissue, freeze the cells with cryogen, perform Mohs surgery which is a precise and microscopic surgery to remove all the layers of cancerous cells within the tissues or use the Blu-U light to breakdown cancerous cells with several treatments. It is very important to know your skin and watch for any changes in appearance, such as new growths, changing moles or a sore that won’t heal. To prevent these different types of skin cancers, it is important to protect your skin from the sun. Unprotected and repetitive sun exposure, especially starting at young ages, attributes to many skin cancers. Always wear a sunscreen with SPF 30, such as Blue Lizard, to keep your skin healthy and prevent sun damage. It is recommended that you have a skin exam done regularly by a dermatologist.