How To Communicate With Your Provider
With all of these choices, where do you start? Most importantly, you should find a provider you can trust and communicate with comfortably. Communication is easier with someone who gets along with you well and takes you seriously. If you’re not sure whether your current provider can take care of your skin condition, ask. Here are some examples of questions to ask your provider:
- Do you take care of patients with this type of skin condition?
- What information can you give me about my rash/breakout/other skin condition?
- When do you refer patients with rashes to another provider?
- Which provider would you refer me to?
Finding The Right Doctor For You
Finding the right doctor can be a frustrating challenge. Our bodies’ systems are connected in complicated ways. Knowing which specialist is right for which ailment often requires time, research, and expertise. In the following slides, our experts will show you who treats what medical need, introducing many of the commonand surprisingtypes of doctors, including cardiologists, gynecologists, and bariatricians.
What Changes In The Skin Occur Due To Exposure To The Sun
Exposure to sun causes most of the wrinkles and age spots on our faces. People think a glowing complexion means good health, but skin color obtained from being in the sun can actually speed up the effects of aging and increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
Sun exposure causes most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of aging. Over time, the suns ultraviolet light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily in addition to taking longer to heal. So while sun damage to the skin may not be apparent when youre young, it will definitely show later in life. The sun can also cause issues for your eyes, eyelids, and the skin around the eyes.
Changes in the skin related to sun exposure:
- Precancerous and cancerous skin lesions caused by loss of the skins immune function.
- Benign tumors.
- Fine and coarse wrinkles.
- Freckles discolored areas of the skin, called mottled pigmentation and sallowness, yellow discoloration of the skin.
- Telangiectasias, the dilation of small blood vessels under the skin.
- Elastosis, the destruction of the elastic tissue causing lines and wrinkles.
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What Is A Pathologists Role In Treating Skin Cancer
You may never meet your pathologist. This doctor specializes in examining tissue samples or body fluids. Pathology is needed to make a definite diagnosis of cancer. A dermatopathologist is an expert in the microscopic diagnosis of skin disease.3
When your doctor biopsies a lesion, the tissue sample is sent to a laboratory. A pathologist will look at it under a microscope to see whether the sample contains abnormal cells. Additional tests may be done to check for genetic mutations and chromosomal abnormalities. The pathologist will write a report that describes the sample. This information is essential for diagnosing skin cancer. It is also is important for determining the cancer stage.
What Kind Of Doctor Removes Moles
If you have a mole that needs to be removed, you may be wondering whether your primary care provider can perform the procedure, or if youll need to consult a special mole removal doctor. The short answer is that it depends. In some cases, such as where a mole is benign , a primary care provider can take care of the removal. In other instances, the procedure should be entrusted to a dermatologist, which is a doctor that specializes in treating skin disorders. You should consult a dermatologist if:
- The mole is malignant
- The mole has changed in color, shape or size
- The mole is located on your face or in another area where its especially important to minimize scarring
- You have numerous moles
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How To Find A Gp
If you dont have a GP, you can find a doctors surgery in your local area by going to:
Try different times of the day if it’s difficult to get through by phone. It could be particularly busy at the beginning of the day. You dont have to tell the receptionist what you want to see the doctor for, although sometimes it might help to explain your situation.
You might be able to go in person to book an appointment at some GP practices. But at the moment most practices do not provide this service. It may help to see if your GP practice has a website, this will explain the best way to get an appointment.
The receptionist at your GPs practice will usually offer you a telephone or video appointment first. Your GP will ask you to make another appointment if they need to see you again. You may be asked to attend in person, especially if they need to examine you. The receptionist will give you a date and time for this.
Accept a booked appointment, even if you think its a long time to wait. You could ask about cancellations if you are able to get to the practice at short notice. Do check that they have the right contact details for you, including your telephone number and email.
What Causes Basal And Squamous Cell Skin Cancers
While many risk factors for basal and squamous cell skin cancers have been found, its not always clear exactly how these factors might cause cancer.
Most basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are caused by repeated and unprotected skin exposure to ultraviolet rays from sunlight, as well as from man-made sources such as tanning beds.
UV rays can damage the DNA inside skin cells. DNA is the chemical in each of our cells that makes up our genes, which control how our cells function. We usually look like our parents because they are the source of our DNA. But DNA affects more than just how we look.
Some genes help control when our cells grow, divide into new cells, and die:
- Genes that help cells grow, divide, and stay alive are called oncogenes.
- Genes that keep cell growth in check by slowing down cell division or causing cells to die at the right time are called tumor suppressor genes.
Cancers can be caused by DNA changes that keep oncogenes turned on, or that turn off tumor suppressor genes. These types of gene changes can lead to cells growing out of control.
Researchers dont yet know all of the DNA changes that result in basal or squamous cell skin cancer, but they have found that in many skin cancers the cells have changes in tumor suppressor genes.
These are not the only gene changes that play a role in the development of skin cancer. There are many others as well.
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What Is A Dermatologists Role In Treating Skin Cancer
A dermatologist is a doctor trained to treat problems of the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes.3 Dermatologists may have experience with skin cancer.
Dermatologists play an important role in skin cancer screening. Your dermatologist can perform a full-body skin exam. Dermatologists are trained to use an instrument called a dermatoscope. A dermatoscope is a special magnifying glass. It helps your doctor to see skin structures that are invisible to the naked eye. Many dermatologists photograph lesions. The photographs allow them to track changes over time. Your dermatologist can teach you how to do a skin self-examination.
Dermatologists perform skin biopsy procedures. When the biopsy results come back, your dermatologist will interpret the report for you. Together, you and your dermatologist will develop a treatment plan. Many skin cancers can be treated by your dermatologists in the office.
A Mohs surgeon is a dermatologist with advanced training in Mohs surgery.3 A Mohs surgeon usually works in an office. Mohs surgery is an outpatient procedure.4
What The Doctor Is Looking For
During a skin cancer screening, your doctor is checking for the ABCDEs of each mole, which are all possible signs of skin cancer:
- Asymmetry: Not the same shape on both sides
- Border irregularity: Ragged or blurred edges
- Color: Different shades of tan, brown, or black
- Diameter: Larger than 1/4 inch
- Evolving: Changes over time
Your doctor will also check for actinic keratosis, skin changes caused by sun damage that, without treatment, can turn into cancer.
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Seek Comprehensive Care If Your Skin Cancer Is Complicated To Treat
Complicated skin cancer may require the expertise of multiple specialists. Plastic surgeons may get involved when the cosmetic challenges are significant. An ocular surgeon or an oculoplastic specialist may be needed if you have an especially difficult-to-treat skin cancer close to the eye. A head and neck surgeon may join your care team if there is nerve involvement or if the cancer is too extensive for local anesthesia.
The beauty of a comprehensive cancer center like MSK is that the expertise is all here, says Dr. Lee. We have a multidisciplinary program especially for people with complex skin cancer. You can usually see all of your doctors on the same day and in the same location. The dermatology team works with you to coordinate your appointments with your schedule.
Offering Comprehensive Evaluation And Treatment For All Types Of Skin Cancer
SLUCare Dermatology offers expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. Fellowship-trained skin cancer specialist Dr. Eran Chen sees patients with each of these types of skin cancer and offers both clinical surveillance and surgical treatment for skin cancer patients.
Both Dr. Chen and SLUCare dermatologist Dr. Ramona Behshad perform in-office procedures under local anesthesia, including Mohs surgery an outpatient treatment for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, boasting a 98% cure rate. For melanoma, the doctors offer surgical excision and slow Mohs treatment , depending on the depth and location of the cancer.
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Look For A Doctor And Hospital That Participates In Clinical Trials
Ask if they participate in clinical trials – centers that do are more likely to be up to date on the most current treatments. And some research has found that doctors who participate in cancer clinical trials took better care of all their patients. If youâre having surgery, ask the doctorâs role in the surgery, as well as the qualifications of her team.
Certain specialists are hard to find and if traveling to one for treatment isnât feasible, you can still take advantage of her expertise. Get a second opinion to make sure agrees with your treatment plan, or can help develop a treatment plan, even if the treatment is going to take place at a place closer to home, says Gilligan.
See A Suspicious Spot See A Dermatologist
If you find a spot on your skin that could be skin cancer, its time to see a dermatologist. Found early, skin cancer is highly treatable. Often a dermatologist can treat an early skin cancer by removing the cancer and a bit of normal-looking skin.
Given time to grow, treatment for skin cancer becomes more difficult.
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Thinking About Taking Part In A Clinical Trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they’re not right for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials.
Complementary And Alternative Treatments
Its common for people with cancer to seek out complementary or alternative treatments. When used alongside your conventional cancer treatment, some of these therapies can make you feel better and improve your quality of life. Others may not be so helpful and in some cases may be harmful. It is important to tell all your healthcare professionals about any complementary medicines you are taking. Never stop taking your conventional treatment without consulting your doctor first.All treatments can have side effects. These days, new treatments are available that can help to make many side effects much less severe than they were in the past.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Skin Cancer
The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, typically a new mole, a new skin lesion or a change in an existing mole.
- Basal cell carcinoma may appear as a small, smooth, pearly, or waxy bump on the face, or neck, or as a flat, pink/red- or brown-colored lesion on the trunk, arms or legs.
- Squamous cell carcinoma can appear as a firm, red nodule, or as a rough, scaly, flat lesion that may itch, bleed and become crusty. Both basal cell and squamous cell cancers mainly occur on areas of the skin frequently exposed to the sun, but can occur anywhere.
- Melanoma usually appears as a pigmented patch or bump. It may resemble a normal mole, but usually has a more irregular appearance.
When looking for melanoma, think of the ABCDE rule that tells you the signs to watch for:
- Asymmetry: The shape of one half doesnt match the other.
- Border: Edges are ragged or blurred.
- Color: Uneven shades of brown, black, tan, red, white or blue.
- Diameter: A significant change in size .
- Evolution: Changes in the way a mole or lesion looks or feels .
What Is The Uv Index
In order to address the growing concern by Canadians regarding changes in UVR resulting from ozone depletion, Environment Canada rates the UV intensity as UV Index on a scale of 0 to 11+ . It can go to the mid-teens at midday in the tropics. In Canada the UV Index is categorized into low , moderate , high , very high and extreme .
The human health effects and precautions relating to the UV Index are summarized in the following table.
Sun Protection Messages, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Global Solar UV Index: A Practical Guide. A joint recommendation of the World Health Organization, World Meteorological Organization, United Nations Environment Programme, and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.
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What Is A Primary Care Providers Role In Treating Skin Cancer
Primary care providers provide preventive care and health education.1 They diagnose and treat some medical problems. They refer patients to specialists for others. Primary care doctors include internists, family physicians, pediatricians, geriatricians, and gynecologists. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants provide primary care as well.1 They are not doctors, but they have advanced medical training.
Some primary care providers are trained to recognize skin cancer. Some primary care providers perform full-body skin examinations. Others may look for signs of skin cancer while examining you for other reasons. Primary care providers may counsel about sun protection. Your primary care provider may biopsy a suspicious lesion or refer you to a dermatologist.2
Questions To Ask About Your Health Care Team
How many oncologists will be part of my cancer treatment team?
If there is more than 1 doctor on my team, which doctor will lead my overall care?
How will each type of recommended cancer treatment help me?
Will my case be reviewed by a tumor board? When?
When do I need to make a decision about my treatment planning?
How often will I need to see each doctor during the treatment period? After treatment?
Are my doctors all at the same hospital/center or at different locations?
What is my health insurance coverage for different medical services? If I’m concerned with the costs of cancer care, who can help me?
What other types of health care providers will be part of my cancer care team?
If I experience a new side effect or a change in how I’m feeling, who should I tell?
Is there one person I should contact with any questions I have? How can I get in touch with the different professionals on my team?
What is the best way to get in touch with my cancer care team in an emergency?
Who can help me cope with the stress and emotions of cancer?
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Cancer: Should You See A Specialist
A cancer diagnosis can be scary. You want to make sure you get the best treatment possible. But how do you know who to go to? No matter what type of cancer you have — or whether you need surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or all three – should you see a doctor who specializes in your particular type of cancer? Or will a generalist do?
Like most things medical, the answer isnât crystal clear. And many people may not have much of a choice. Because there are more than 100 different types of cancer, finding someone who specializes in the type of cancer you have may be a challenge. So before you get too anxious about finding a specialist, ask yourself these three questions: