The Risks Of Skin Cancer Screening Tests Include The Following:
Finding skin cancer does not always improve health or help you live longer.
False-negative test results can occur.
Screening test results may appear to be normal even though cancer is present. A person who receives a false-negative test result may delay getting medical care even if there are symptoms.
False-positive test results can occur.
A biopsy may cause scarring.
When a skin biopsy is done, the doctor will try to leave the smallest scar possible, but there is a risk of scarring and infection.
Talk to your doctor about your risk for skin cancer and your need for screening tests.
What The Doctor Is Looking For
- 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
Prevention Diagnosis And Treatment
There are two things you should know about the development of skin cancer.
If a visual examination reveals potential skin cancer, your dermatologist will take a biopsy . A laboratory will analyze the tissue to ensure an accurate diagnosis. If it tests positive for skin cancer, prompt treatment is essential. Most early stage cancers can be removed right here in our office. For advanced or problematic tumors, we will refer you to an appropriate surgical specialist.
Have you had your annual cancer screening? Call to schedule an appointment at DermCare.
Don’t Miss: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Survival
Why You Should Get Tested For Skin Cancer
6 May 2020
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, however, 86% of skin cancers can be prevented and there is a 98% survival rate if skin cancer is caught early versus 16% if caught late. In this blog, the third in our series for Sun Awareness Week, we explore why you should get tested for skin cancer.
How Can I Prevent Skin Cancer
For all types of skin cancer, the first lines of defense are awareness and prevention. Prevention steps center on avoiding ultraviolet radiation exposure from both sunlight and tanning beds. This means staying out of the sun, especially when the suns rays are strongest, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. using a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 and covering exposed skin with protective clothing when outdoors, even on a cloudy day.
Perform a skin self-exam
Also Check: Chances Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma Spreading
Should I Use A Skin Cancer Detection App
Anything that reminds you to look for signs of skin cancer is a good thing. However, some smartphone apps claim to be able to assess certain skin changes and inform individuals whether such changes warrant a visit to a dermatologist for further analysis.
Thus far, the accuracy of these is not high enough and relying solely on an app, rather than on your own observations and visits to a doctor, you could put yourself at risk by delaying a visit to the doctor when one is warranted. In one recent study, the most accurate skin cancer detection app missed almost 30% of melanomas, diagnosing them as low-risk lesions.
However, these apps are evolving, and one day they could become part of the arsenal to help detect skin cancer. Smartphones can be useful in terms of telemedicine. For instance, in locations where dermatologists may not be readily available, a local physician can send a photo of a suspicious mole to a dermatologist and based on visual inspection and communication with that physician, determine what steps to take next.
Who Should Have A Skin Cancer Check
If you think you have a high risk of skin cancer, speak to your doctor. It is also important you become familiar with your skin so that you can pick up any changes. Most melanomas are found by individuals themselves or by their partners or other family members.
Look out for:
- any crusty sores that dont heal
- changes to the colour, size, shape or thickness of moles and freckles over a period of weeks or months
- new spots
- small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
If you notice any of the above, its important to see your doctor.
Also Check: Melanoma Bone Cancer Life Expectancy
How Does One Get Tested For Skin Cancer And What Does The Procedure Entail
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
HealthTap doctors are based in the U.S., board certified, and available by text or video.
You Can Find Skin Cancer On Your Body
The best way to find skin cancer is to examine yourself. When checking, you want to look at the spots on your skin. And you want to check everywhere from your scalp to the spaces between your toes and the bottoms of your feet.
If possible, having a partner can be helpful. Your partner can examine hard-to-see areas like your scalp and back.
Getting in the habit of checking your skin will help you notice changes. Checking monthly can be beneficial. If you have had skin cancer, your dermatologist can tell you how often you should check your skin.
People of all ages get skin cancer
Checking your skin can help you find skin cancer early when its highly treatable.
Don’t Miss: Skin Cancer 1st Stage
What Is Skin Cancer
Skin cancer happens when skin cells grow and multiply in an uncontrolled, unorderly way.
Normally, new skin cells form when cells grow old and die or when they become damaged. When this process doesnt work as it should, a rapid growth of cells results. This collection of cells may be noncancerous , which dont spread or cause harm, or cancerous, which may spread to nearby tissue or other areas in your body if not caught early and treated.
Skin cancer is often caused by ultraviolet light exposure from the sun.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer and are sometimes called non-melanoma skin cancer.
Melanoma is not as common as basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas but is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. If left untreated or caught in a late-stage, melanomas are more likely to spread to organs beyond the skin, making them difficult to treat and potentially life-limiting.
Fortunately, if skin cancer is identified and treated early, most are cured. This is why it is important to take a few safeguards and to talk with your healthcare provider if you think you have any signs of skin cancer.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
Questions to ask your dermatologist may include:
- What type of skin cancer do I have?
- What stage is my skin cancer?
- What tests will I need?
- Whats the best treatment for my skin cancer?
- What are the side effects of that treatment?
- What are the potential complications of this cancer and the treatment for it?
- What outcome can I expect?
- Do I have an increased risk of additional skin cancers?
- How often should I be seen for follow-up checkups?
Read Also: Large Cell Cancer Of The Lung
Where Does Skin Cancer Develop
Skin cancer is most commonly seen in sun-exposed areas of your skin your face , ears, neck, arms, chest, upper back, hands and legs. However, it can also develop in less sun-exposed and more hidden areas of skin, including between your toes, under your fingernails, on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet and in your genital area.
How Does Skin Cancer Become A Life
You may wonder how cancer on the surface of your skin becomes a life-threatening cancer. It seems logical to think you could just scrape off the skin with the cancer cells or even remove the cancerous skin lesion with a minor skin surgery and thats all that would be needed. These techniques are successfully used if cancer is caught early.
But if skin cancer isnt caught early, something thats just on my skin can grow and spread beyond the immediate area. Cancer cells break away and travel through the bloodstream or lymph system. The cancer cells settle in other areas of your body and begin to grow and develop into new tumors. This travel and spread is called metastasis.
The type of cancer cell where cancer first started called primary cancer determines the type of cancer. For example, if malignant melanoma metastasized to the lungs, the cancer would still be called malignant melanoma. This is how that superficial skin cancer can turn into life-threatening cancer.
You May Like: What Is The Survival Rate For Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Should I Have Routine Skin Cancer Screenings
While many routine cancer screenings, such as colonoscopies and mammograms, are recommended when a person reaches a certain age, there are no widely adopted age standards for dermatological screenings. Most primary physicians will perform a quick skin check at a routine physical, but we recommend that those with a higher risk for skin cancer have a thorough skin screening by a dermatologist at least once a year. This includes anyone with:
- A family history of melanoma in two or more blood relatives
- Multiple atypical moles
- Numerous actinic keratoses
- An organ transplant
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
Make an appointment to see your healthcare provider or dermatologist as soon as you notice:
- Any changes to your skin or changes in the size, shape or color of existing moles or other skin lesions.
- The appearance of a new growth on your skin.
- A sore that doesnt heal.
- Spots on your skin that are different from others.
- Any spots that change, itch or bleed.
Your provider will check your skin, take a biopsy , make a diagnosis and discuss treatment. Also, see your dermatologist annually for a full skin review.
Recommended Reading: Stage Iii Melanoma
Diagnostic Procedures For Skin Cancer
Skin cancer diagnosis includes:
- A physical exam: A physician, often a dermatologist, examines your skin to look for suspicious growths. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas tend to look red and flaky. Melanomas are often larger and multi-colored.
- Mole mapping: This procedure uses full-body photographs of your skin to monitor changes in existing moles and to detect new ones. Physicians use this cutting-edge preventive measure at your annual skin exam. Itâs especially helpful for tracking moles for high-risk individuals, such as those with a family history of melanoma.
- Biopsy: We remove a small amount of tissue from your skin, for examination under a microscope. A biopsy can determine if cancer is present. During a biopsy, we give you an anesthetic so you will be comfortable. Biopsy procedures include:
- Shave biopsy, using a tool similar to a razor
- Punch biopsy, using a circular tool that removes a small section of skin
- Excisional biopsy, using a scalpel to remove an entire lump
Who Is Most At Risk For Skin Cancer
Although anyone can develop skin cancer, youre at increased risk if you:
- Spend a considerable amount of time working or playing in the sun.
- Get easily sunburned have a history of sunburns.
- Live in a sunny or high-altitude climate.
- Tan or use tanning beds.
- Have light-colored eyes, blond or red hair and fair or freckled skin.
- Have many moles or irregular-shaped moles.
- Have actinic keratosis .
- Have a family history of skin cancer.
- Have had an organ transplant.
- Take medications that suppress or weaken your immune system.
- Have been exposed to ultraviolet light therapy for treating skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.
Don’t Miss: Well Differentiated Carcinoma
Where Within The Skin Layers Does Skin Cancer Develop
Where skin cancer develops specifically, in which skin cells is tied to the types and names of skin cancers.
Most skin cancers begin in the epidermis, your skins top layer. The epidermis contains three main cell types:
- Squamous cells: These are flat cells in the outer part of the epidermis. They constantly shed as new cells form. The skin cancer that can form in these cells is called squamous cell carcinoma.
- Basal cells: These cells lie beneath the squamous cells. They divide, multiply and eventually get flatter and move up in the epidermis to become new squamous cells, replacing the dead squamous cells that have sloughed off. Skin cancer that begins in basal cells is called basal cell carcinoma.
- Melanocytes: These cells make melanin, the brown pigment that gives skin its color and protects your skin against some of the suns damaging UV rays. Skin cancer that begins in melanocytes is called melanoma.
Causes Of Skin Cancer
UV rays cause skin cancer by creating changes in the cells of your skin. In some cases, the UV rays cause direct damage to your cells. Tans and sunburns, for example, are both signs that UV rays have damaged your skin. In other cases, UV rays cause skin cancer indirectly, by weakening the immune system.
Many studies on skin cancer show that people who have suffered many severe sunburns in childhood are at greater risk of developing skin cancer. Family history, some chemical exposures, and immune dysfunction conditions can also create a greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Also Check: Clear Cell Carcinoma Symptoms
Testing For Gene Changes
For some people with melanoma, biopsy samples may be tested to see if the cells have mutations in certain genes, such as the BRAF gene. About half of melanomas have BRAF mutations. Some drugs used to treat advanced melanomas are only likely to work if the cells have BRAF mutations , so this test is important in helping to determine treatment options. Tests for changes in other genes, such as C-KIT, might be done as well.
A newer lab test known as looks at certain gene expression patterns in melanoma cells to help show if early-stage melanomas are likely to spread. This might be used to help determine treatment options. To learn more, see Whats New in Melanoma Skin Cancer Research?
How Does Skin Cancer Happen And Why Are Some People At Higher Risk
Exposure to ultraviolet light, whether that be from the sun or sunbeds, leads to skin cancer.
Non-melanoma skin cancer
The cells in the epidermis – the top layer of the skin – are most at risk of sun damage.
In the epidermis, the most common cells are called keratinocytes.
Both basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer develop from keratinocytes
The cells continously shed as new ones form. However, when the skin is exposed to too much sun, it causes DNA damage.
Over time, this becomes a problem. It causes the cells to grow in an uncontrolled manner, which leads to cancerous tumours.
Melanoma skin cancer
Melanocytes are cells in the skin that give us the colour of our skin because they produce a pigment, known as melanin.
When you sit in the sun, melanocytes produce more pigment , which spreads to other skin cells to protect them from the suns rays.
But melanocytes are also where cancer starts.
Too much UV causes sunburn, and this is a sign of damage to the skins DNA.
The UV triggers changes in the melanocytes, which makes the genetic material become faulty and cause abnormal cell growth.
People who burn easily are more at risk of skin cancer because their cells do not produce as much pigment to protect their skin.
Those with albinism are at the most risk because their skin produces no pigment at all.
Cancer Research UK says: People with darker skins can still get melanoma but they have more natural protection against it.
Don’t Miss: How Long Does It Take Melanoma To Metastasize
What Are Some Of The Lesser
Some of the less common skin cancers include the following:
Kaposi sarcoma is a rare cancer most commonly seen in people who have weakened immune systems, those who have human immunodeficiency virus /AIDS and people who are taking immunosuppressant medications who have undergone organ or bone marrow transplant.
Signs and symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma are:
- Blue, black, pink, red or purple flat or bumpy blotches or patches on your arms, legs and face. Lesions might also appear in your mouth, nose and throat.
Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare cancer that begins at the base of the epidermis, the top layer of your skin. This cancer starts in Merkel cells, which share of the features of nerve cells and hormone-making cells and are very close to the nerve ending in your skin. Merkel cell cancer is more likely to spread to other parts of the body than squamous or basal cell skin cancer.
Signs and symptoms of Merkel cell carcinoma are:
- A small reddish or purplish bump or lump on sun-exposed areas of skin.
- Lumps are fast-growing and sometimes open up as ulcers or sores.
Sebaceous gland carcinoma
Sebaceous gland carcinoma is a rare, aggressive cancer that usually appears on your eyelid. This cancer tends to develop around your eyes because theres a large number of sebaceous glands in that area.
Signs and symptoms of sebaceous gland carcinoma are:
- A painless, round, firm, bump or lump on or slightly inside your upper or lower eyelid.