Skin Cancer

Screening for Melanoma

A skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of your skin by a medical professional. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States with 1 in 5 Americans developing skin cancer in their lifetime. 50% of Americans aged 65 or more will have a skin cancer.


There are three main types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma (BCC)squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. BCC and SCC are the most common forms of skin cancer, while melanoma is the most deadly. When detected and treated in its early stages, the cure rate for BCC and SCC is about 95 percent. If melanoma is detected before it spreads, it too has a high cure rate.


Due to its common nature, it is very important to regularly check your own skin for abnormalities and to get professionally checked by a dermatologist every year. Screenings take approximately 10 minutes, including completing the paperwork and the actual skin examination.


Actinic Keratoses (AK)

Also known as solar keratosis, these rough, dry, scaly patches or spots are the most common precancerous growths. An AK usually forms as a result of overexposure to UV rays. Common causes for this type of over exposure are extended periods of time in the sun and indoor tanning. This condition is most common among people with fair skin and over the age of 40 (as it often takes years of sun exposure to develop). AKs are usually found in sun exposed areas like the head, face, neck, hands, forearms, and legs.


These rough patches are often elevated and resemble warts. They can be pink, red, or brown and can cause an itching or burning sensation. While not cancerous, treatment is important because if left unattended, these precancerous growths can develop into a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Using medications, various forms of therapy, and surgery, we are able to remove and treat these AKs.


Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of all cancers.  More than one out of every three new cancers is a skin cancer, and the vast majority are BCCs. These abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions are located in the deepest layer of the epidermis and look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, pearly bumps, or scars. The majority of the time, the cause for this cancer is an extreme amount of intense UV radiation.


Only in exceedingly rare cases can it spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening. While the cancer almost never spreads outside of the original tumor site, it definitely should not be taken lightly. If not treated promptly, this cancer can cause disfigurement as it eats away at healthy tissue. Using Mohs surgery, we are able to remove and treat the cancer.



Squamous Cell Carcinoma SCCs

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. This uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells looks like scaly, firm, red patches, open sores, warts, or elevated growths with a central depression. It is possible for them to crust over and even bleed. Most SCC is caused by long-term exposure to UV radiation. People of old age, with fair skin, light eye color, blonde or red hair, and who spend a lot of time in the sun or use tanning beds are more likely to develop SCCs.


The cancer is most likely to develop in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, balding scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs. They can be disfiguring, and if left untreated, can be deadly. However, with our medications, therapy, and surgery, we can remove and treat the cancer.




The most dangerous form of skin cancer, Melanoma often resembles moles and in some cases develop from pre-existing moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. A heavy amount of exposure to ultraviolet rays is the most common cause of this cancer.


A popular method for remembering the signs and symptoms of melanoma is the mnemonic “ABCDE”:


  • Asymmetrical skin lesion.
  • Border of the lesion is irregular.
  • Color: melanomas usually have multiple colors (black, grey, blue, brown, pink, etc).
  • Diameter: moles greater than 6 mm are more likely to be melanomas than smaller moles.
  • Enlarging: Enlarging or evolving (the most important factor)


If melanoma is recognized and treated early, it can be curable. However, if it is not caught in its early stages, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes more difficult to treat and can be fatal.