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Skin Cancer

Fast Facts

  1. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lives. It affects people of all races and colors. Almost all skin cancer is curable if found early.
  2. In the U.S., more than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. More than two people die of the disease every hour.
  3. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.
  4. People of color have higher percentages of acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM) of the palms, soles of the feet and nailbeds.
  5. More people develop skin cancer because of indoor tanning than develop lung cancer from smoking.
  6. Almost 40% of the time, treatment of childhood melanoma is delayed due to misdiagnosis of the pigmented lesions.

Precancerous lesions

  • Actinic keratosis (AK) or solar keratosis. These are crusty precancerous lesions caused by sun damage. If left untreated, they can develop into squamous cell carcinoma. Sometimes an AK may appear and flake off and disappear, only to reappear, especially in people who spend a lot of time outdoors without sun protection. Treatment is designed to eliminate AKs often by cryosurgery or freezing.
  • Atypical moles (Dysplastic Nevi) are unusual looking moles. They are hereditary and tend to run in families. They can predispose the patient to melanoma. 2 – 8% of people with lighter skin tone have atypical moles and often have a family history of melanoma, which creates a higher risk of developing melanoma.

Who is at Risk?

Skin Cancer is a serious risk to the general population, and is on the rise for patients of all ethnicities and ages. At one time, skin cancer was typically found in patients over the age of 45. Today, skin cancers are trending younger than ever before. Any history of indoor tanning increases the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma before age 40 by 69 percent.

The Three Main Types of Skin Cancer

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer. It commonly affects people with lighter skin but can occur in darker skin tone people. BCCs are caused by years of sun exposure, and are usually found on the face, nose, chest, neck and back of the hands. BCC’s look like flesh-colored, pearl-like bumps or pinkish patches of skin. Tanning beds create an increased risk of BCC. BCCs grow slowly and rarely spread but can grow deep and wide destroying tissue and bone, causing disfigurement. Early diagnosis and treatment are important.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is caused by years of sun exposure. It affects fair skinned and darker skinned people. Women often get SCC on their legs. But SCC can appear anywhere including on lips and genitals. The lesion looks like firm red bumps, scaly patches, or sores that won’t heal. SCC can spread to other parts of the body. Tanning beds create an increased risk of SCC. When caught early and treated it is highly curable.
  • Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths. It is caused by intense UV exposure, especially sunburns. Often it develops in a mole, birth mark or a new dark spot that forms on normal skin of the chest, back, arms and legs, but also on the palms and soles of the feet. It can even form under a toenail or fingernail and in the mouth, vagina, anus or eye.

ABCDEs of Skin Cancer

Early detection can significantly reduce the risk of serious illness and death. Early whole-body screening in the 3 years before diagnosis was associated with a 14% lower risk of deadly melanoma. Self-screening is important to identify melanoma and leads to better outcomes. The symptoms of melanoma include ABCDE:

  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularities
  • Color variation
  • Diameter less than 6 mm
  • Evolving lesions means lesions that are elevated, painful or ulcerated, itch, burn or bleed.

Dermatology & Skincare Arts in Parsippany, New Jersey has a variety of treatments for skin cancer including topical treatments, desiccation and curettage, surgical excision. Contact Dr. Kandula to schedule an annual full body skin cancer screening. If you have a lesion that looks suspicious, call to schedule an appointment for evaluation of the lesion.