Anyone can get skin cancer. It strikes indiscriminately regardless of your age, sex, or race. But if we catch it early, we can usually cure it. That’s where skin cancer screenings come in and where our team at Easton Dermatology Associates excels.
Although many of our patients understand that skin cancer can be quite serious if left untreated, they aren’t sure if and when they need a skin cancer screening. So, we’ve compiled this guide to give you some important facts about your risk for skin cancer and explain the signs that should prompt you to come in for an evaluation.
Things that increase your risk for skin cancer
By age 70, one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer. Most of those cases are basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma and are typically a direct result of excess sun exposure. More than 207,000 of those diagnoses will be melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.
Most skin cancers are preventable, and most are treatable if caught early enough. Fortunately, it’s easy to catch them early with skin cancer screenings. We recommend a skin cancer screening once a year for most of our patients, but you may need one more frequently if you fall into a high-risk category. Here are some of the factors that increase your odds of getting skin cancer:
- You’ve had melanoma in the past
- Skin cancer runs in the family
- You have 50-100 moles on your body
- You’re a Caucasian man over 65 years old
- You have light skin
- Your hair is blonde or red
- Your eyes are green or blue
- You spend a lot of time outdoors
- You have a history of sunburns
- You use tanning beds
- You have freckled skin
If you have any unusual-looking moles, it’s important to come to see us right away, as cancer often lurks in atypical skin growths. Use the ABCDE rule to evaluate your moles. Each letter in the acronym stands for a potentially concerning mole characteristic: asymmetry, border (irregular), color (multi), diameter (larger or growing), and evolving.
Knowing your body well and checking your own skin regularly helps you identify changing moles that may be suspicious.
Skin cancer screening results
During your skin cancer screening, we check your body from head to toe looking for suspicious spots and warning signs that prompt us to investigate further. In some cases, we can take a wait-and-see approach and monitor your mole or lesion to watch for changes.
However, some cases call for a biopsy, which is simply the removal of a tiny sample of skin tissue, so we can examine it under a microscope. If the test reveals cancer, we work quickly to remove the diseased tissue.
Fortunately, we have one of the country’s most skilled physicians on staff here at Easton Dermatology Associates. Dr. Hyland Cronin is fellowship-trained to perform a procedure called Mohs micrographic surgery. This advanced technique allows Dr. Cronin to meticulously remove diseased tissue layer-by-layer, examining each in our on-site lab. Once she reaches a layer that’s free of cancer, she stops. This procedure is much less invasive than traditional excision techniques and preserves as much healthy tissue as possible.
Mohs surgery is 99% successful at curing skin cancer in those who’ve never had skin cancer treatments in the past. If this is recurring cancer, the success rate is still an impressive 94%.
How to set up a skin cancer screening
If you ignore skin cancer, it grows quickly and can become life-threatening. Fortunately, you can do a lot to prevent skin cancer by protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and by undergoing regular skin cancer screenings.
If you’ve never been screened or it’s been a long time since your last one, schedule a skin cancer screening at Easton Dermatology Associates now by calling either of our offices in Salisbury or Easton, Maryland, at 410-819-8867 today.