Even though melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer, it is considered the most dangerous. If you are concerned about a suspicious-looking spot on your skin, or are just unsure about what to look for, you're not alone. Roughly 96,000 new melanomas were diagnosed last year, according to the American Cancer Society. Knowing the difference between a benign and cancerous spot and seeing a skin expert when you may recognize an early stage of skin cancer is an important step for skin cancer prevention.
The skin experts at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera conduct a visual exam to check the skin for any unusual marks or growth that could be signs of skin cancer during a skin cancer screening in Corte Madera, CA. Read on to learn how an annual skin cancer screening can help with skin cancer prevention and the answer to the question, "What does early skin cancer look like?"
Annual skin cancer screenings are important
Over five million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year in this country. Contrary to what people might think, anyone can get skin cancer. There is a common misconception that people with a darker skin tone or individuals who wear sunscreen daily are less at risk. While sunscreen does protect the skin from the sun's harmful rays, most individuals don't apply it often enough or don't reapply it as often as they should. The sun's UV rays can cause cellular changes or damage in all skin types, which can possibly lead to skin cancer.
Self-exams and regular skin cancer screenings with a certified dermatologist in Corte Madera, CA are crucial to catching any potential skin issues early.
What does a skin cancer screening entail?
Skin cancer doesn't always develop from a mole or birthmark. Skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body, even on places never exposed to the sun. Up to 80% of cases first appear as normal skin but turn out to be more when examined by a professional, or when a biopsy is taken. When patients come in for a skin cancer screening at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera, our certified dermatologists carefully examine the entire body, including the:
- Fingernails and toenails
- Palms of the hands and soles of the feet
- Mucous membranes
When Corte Madera, CA patients undergo regular skin cancer screenings, it increases the chance of a skin cancer lesion being caught early, in the treatable stage. The two most common types of skin cancer are UV-ray induced skin cancer lesions: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Both types rarely spread to other parts of the body and usually are curable with treatment. A third type is called melanoma. It is less common than the first two but is far more dangerous and more likely to spread. A skin cancer screening every year by the experts at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera can help determine any issues or lesions in their early stages, making them easier to treat.
What happens to your body when you have skin cancer?
Individuals are more at risk for skin cancer if they have a family history of skin cancer, skin that burns or freckles easily, have a large number of moles, or are frequently exposed to the sun either through leisure activities or work. Potential signs of skin cancer can vary, but may include:
- A mole that is painful to the touch
- A Sore that doesn't heal within two weeks
- Shiny red, pink, white, or translucent bump
- Change in size or shape (irregular borders) of an existing mole or spot
- Skin marks or moles that bleed, ooze, or become crusty
If patients notice any of these characteristics during a self-exam, they should contact Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology Corte Madera immediately to schedule a skin cancer screening appointment.
Skin cancer prevention
Patients can reduce their risk of skin cancer by limiting their exposure to the sun. If they must be outside, then taking a few simple precautions, like seeking shade when possible, wearing daily sunscreen of at least 30 SPF, and wearing a hat helps reduce the risk for skin cancer. Annual screenings with a certified dermatologist from head to toe is also another preventative measure to maintaining healthy skin or catching a cancerous lesion early.
With two convenient locations in Corte Madera and San Francisco, CA, let our skin experts at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology help by contacting us today to schedule your private skin cancer screening.