May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so let’s refresh what skin cancer is and how you can prevent or treat it. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, and it often hides in plain sight. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of skin cancer and schedule cancer screenings regularly to prevent cancer and intervene early if a mass does develop.
Skin cancer can develop in a variety of forms. We interviewed our patient, Annette, who initially came into the office for a Botox treatment. When Dr. Chasin was examining her face, he noticed a mark on her nose, near the corner of her eye. Because of its placement and slight indentation in the skin, she thought it was a mark from her sunglasses. Dr. Chasin recommended that she have it checked out and it is a good thing she did since it was a basal cell carcinoma. Luckily, this is the least dangerous form of skin cancer.
Skin cancer develops in many ways and might not look threatening, so Annette’s thought is understandable. On pale skin, basal cell carcinomas often take on the look of a skin-colored bump (like the mark she saw). People with black or brown skin will often see a dark, glossy bump that can be more easily noticed. Melanoma is a more serious form of skin cancer that typically starts as a mole and gradually changes shape, size, and color. Patients of all skin types should be aware of new or developing growths on the skin that have an irregular shape and border.
Skin cancer screenings should be performed annually as a precaution. Oftentimes, skin cancer can be successfully treated with early diagnosis and treatment, so we encourage patients to schedule an appointment even if they don’t see concerning marks or growths on their skin. Luckily, Annette was one of those patients who successfully removed all of the cancerous mass.
After her skin cancer treatment, Annette also encourages others to perform regular at-home skin exams. One suggestion is to take pictures of moles, growths, or marks on the skin and re-check the skin after a few days or weeks to see if the mark has changed. Check your entire body, including the scalp, between the toes, ears, and back. Skin cancer can develop anywhere on the body, including spots that are difficult to see.
If you’ve noticed a new mark on your skin, it will never hurt to check with your dermatologist or a physician. Schedule a consultation at Reflections Center for Cosmetic Medicine and our team of expert physicians can help you receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.