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Why Is Skin Cancer Dangerous

Can You Have Melanoma For Years And Not Know

How Dangerous is Melanoma? Is it Treatable?

How long can you have melanoma and not know it? It depends on the type of melanoma. For example, nodular melanoma grows rapidly over a matter of weeks, while a radial melanoma can slowly spread over the span of a decade. Like a cavity, a melanoma may grow for years before producing any significant symptoms.

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Basal Cell And Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of cancer, but also the least likely to spread. In particular, BCCs rarely spread beyond the initial tumor site. However, left untreated, BCCs can grow deeper into the skin and damage surrounding skin, tissue, and bone. Occasionally, a BCC can become aggressive, spreading to other parts of the body and even becoming life threatening. Also, the longer you wait to have your BCC treated, the more likely it is to return after treatment. Like BCCs, SCCs are highly curable when caught and treated early. However, if left to develop without treatment, an SCC can become invasive to skin and tissue beyond the original skin cancer site, causing disfigurement and even death. Over 15,000 Americans die each year from SCCs. And even if untreated carcinomas dont result in death, they can lead to large, open lesions on the skin that can cause discomfort, embarrassment, and infection.

Dr Russell Akin Midland Dermatology

Dr. Russell Akin, MD, RPh. FACMS, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon at Midland Dermatology. Dr. Akin specializes in skin cancer treatments, Mohs surgery, and other dermatological procedures with patients ages 12 and up at Midland Dermatology.

For more information or to schedule an appointment at Midland Dermatology, call 432-689-2512.

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Hereditary Factors And Skin Cancer

Family history and hereditary factors , play an important part in the risk of developing skin cancer.

If one or both of your parents have had a skin cancer, you too could be at risk, especially as you are likely to have the same skin type as them.

When combined with UV exposure, the following traits are genetic risk factors for developing skin cancers:

  • red or blonde hair
  • a tendency to freckle.

What Kind Of Infections Can Cause Skin Lesions

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A systemic infection, which is an infection that occurs throughout your body, can cause skin lesions all over your body. Examples include chickenpox and shingles. MRSA and cellulitis are two potentially life threatening infections that involve skin lesions. Some skin lesions, such as moles and freckles, are hereditary.

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Get To Know Your Skin

Any changes to your skin, including new growths, sores that wont heal, or changes to existing moles or freckles, should be brought to the attention of a dermatologist.

Evaluating your skin through regular self-exams will give you a baseline for what your skin is supposed to look like. That way, when any changes occur, youll be able to spot them easily.

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Let’s Be Honest About Why Skin Cancer Rates Are Increasing

While there are also many reasons why rates of skin cancer are climbing, including exposure to outdoor UV radiation and the cumulative damage it causes, we have to be honest about one of the main culprits: the tanning salon boom. Indoor tanning was popular in the past – even more so than today if you can believe it. Some who tanned a lot indoors in past years are now seeing the damage and effects of UV radiation exposure.

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How Often Does Mcc Spread

Around one-third to one-half of people with MCC will experience metastasis, most commonly to the brain, lungs, liver, or bones.

Treatment options for MCC vary based on the stage of the disease and how healthy a patient is overall. Treatment options include:

  • Surgical removal of the tumor
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy

Dermatology Care At Florida Medical Clinic

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Florida Medical Clinics Dermatology Department offers full diagnostic and treatment options for skin cancer. We offer Mohs Surgery as an outpatient procedure, which is an effective way of treating most kinds of skin cancer. Whether youre unsure if the mole on your leg is benign or cancerous, or if youre needing treatment for diagnosed cancers, weve got you covered.

Contact us today! You can also Request an Appointment online for non-urgent medical problems.

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The Cause Of Painful Skin Tags

Location of the skin tag plays a part in how painful it may become over time. Sensitive areas are likely to feel more irritated, as well as areas that experience friction from clothing or jewelry rubbing against them.

There are situations where skin tags can be uncomfortable and even hurtusually when they have become irritated or infected. Infection can set in if there is a break in the skin .

Playing with, pulling on, or picking at the skin tag will always make it worse. These types of activities can cause the skin tag to bleed, which brings other issues.

If your skin tag becomes infected or is in pain, go see your doctor. Do not have the skin tag removed until the infection is gone.

Identifying Skin Cancer: 37 Photos You Need To See

As we head into summer, its time to kick your safe skin practices into high gear. All individuals should apply a broad spectrum SPF every day, and watch their local UV forecast for daily updates when outside activities are planned.

Why? Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. One in five Americans will be diagnosed with the disease in his or her lifetime. There are more new cases of skin cancer every year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although family history and your natural skin pigmentation play a role in your risk, the number-one thing that causes skin cancer is exposure to UV rays.

Erin Gilbert, M.D., Ph.D., a spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation, offered these guidelines to in 2014: Avoid the sun when its at its peak wear sun-protective clothes, such as a hat always wear a broad-spectrum SPF. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

Its a myth that most sun damage occurs in childhood, so theres nothing you can do about it as an adult, Dr. Gilbert said.

Twenty-three percent of sun damage happens before youre 18, but it is cumulative. Its never too late to start protecting yourself, she said. Your melanoma risk doubles if youve had more than five severe sunburns at any age. Dont let a sunburn or a tan deter you from seeing your dermatologist or wearing sun screen the next day.

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Skin Tags And Their Cancer Connection

Cancer is rarely linked to skin tags, but it does happen on occasion. Extremely rare cases of skin cancers have been found in skin tags.

Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma may mimic skin tags, which is why its better to have them checked out if youre concerned. Be reassured that skin tags are not usually skin cancer and they do not turn into skin cancer if they are left untreated.

Risk factors associated with skin cancer are not associated with skin tags. If you experience any growths on your body, always monitor them. If your skin tag starts to change, grow, alter color, look different, or cause pain, see a doctor immediately.

When Melanoma Can’t Be Cured

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If your cancer has spread and it is not possible to cure it by surgery, your doctor may still recommend treatment. In this case, treatment may help to relieve symptoms, might make you feel better and may allow you to live longer.

Whether or not you choose to have anti-cancer treatment, symptoms can still be controlled. For example, if you have pain, there are effective treatments for this.

General practitioners, specialists and palliative care teams in hospitals all play important roles in helping people with cancer.

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How The Government Of Canada Protects You

The Public Health Agency of Canada monitors cancer in Canada. PHAC identifies trends and risk factors for cancer, develops programs to reduce cancer risks, and researches to evaluate risks from the environment and human behaviours. Health Canada also promotes public awareness about sun safety and the harmful effects of UV rays.

Skin Tag Removal And Cancer Biopsy

Your doctor may remove the skin tag and send it for a biopsy, especially if it is abnormal. The doctor will remove the skin tissue and the lab performs a test to determine whether or not the skin tag is cancerous. A majority of the time, the biopsy will confirm that the skin tag is benign.

Bumps that resemble skin tags that bleed, grow, or have more than two colors can require a biopsy to test for skin cancer . Larger or uncommon growths may be sent to a pathologist to examine under a microscope to verify if it is a skin tag or a growth of another kind.

Instances, where the skin tag bleeds or changes rapidly, will also provide a reason to have the growth sent for biopsy. If there is a history of cancer in your family, biopsies are especially important to rule out a cancer diagnosis.

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What To Do If You Receive A Skin Cancer Diagnosis

Once a skin biopsy confirms skin cancer, your doctor will recommend a treatment based on the stage of the cancer.

To improve your outlook, its important that you complete your treatment and schedule follow-up appointments as needed. Your doctor may want to see you every few months to make sure the cancer hasnt returned.

Also schedule annual skin exams with a dermatologist. Get into the habit of checking your own skin for abnormal growths, too. This includes your back, scalp, soles of feet, and ears.

You can also ask your doctor about local support groups for those with skin cancer, or

How Common Is Melanoma

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Melanoma accounts for only about 1% of all skin cancers, but causes the great majority of skin cancer-related deaths. Its one of the most common cancers in young people under 30, especially in young women.

Melanoma incidence has dramatically increased over the past 30 years. Its widely accepted that increasing levels of ultraviolet exposure are one of the main reasons for this rapid rise in the number of melanoma cases.

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The Visibility Of Skin Cancer

A lot of research on finding skin cancer shows that skin cancers can be caught earlier than other cancers because of their visibility. Catching skin cancer in the early stages means that the condition is easier to treat.

When it comes to moles, be especially conscious if your growth is asymmetrical, has irregular borders, different colors, continues to grow, or evolve in any capacity.

You should monitor any new or unusual growths on your body, constantly aware of any changes so you can report them to your physician. Also, skin cancer can present as nodules, irregular patches, or bumps on the skins surface that can burrow into deeper layers of the skin.

Where Do Skin Cancers Start

Most skin cancers start in the top layer of skin, called the epidermis. There are 3 main types of cells in this layer:

  • Squamous cells: These are flat cells in the upper part of the epidermis, which are constantly shed as new ones form.
  • Basal cells: These cells are in the lower part of the epidermis, called the basal cell layer. These cells constantly divide to form new cells to replace the squamous cells that wear off the skins surface. As these cells move up in the epidermis, they get flatter, eventually becoming squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes: These are the cells that can become melanoma. They normally make a brown pigment called melanin, which gives the skin its tan or brown color. Melanin protects the deeper layers of the skin from some of the harmful effects of the sun.

The epidermis is separated from the deeper layers of skin by the basement membrane. When a skin cancer becomes more advanced, it generally grows through this barrier and into the deeper layers.

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How Often Does Scc Spread

Studies suggest that around 1.4% of people with SCC will experience metastasis.

As with BCC, the five-year survival rate is highhovering around 99%in the absence of metastasis. With metastasis, the three-year survival is roughly 29% in women and 46% in men.

What Are The Four Main Types Of Melanoma Of The Skin

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Superficial spreading melanoma

What you should know: This is the most common form of melanoma.

How and where it grows: It can arise in an existing mole or appear as a new lesion. When it begins in a mole that is already on the skin, it tends to grow on the surface of the skin for some time before penetrating more deeply. While it can be found nearly anywhere on the body, it is most likely to appear on the torso in men, the legs in women and the upper back in both.

What it looks like: It may appear as a flat or slightly raised and discolored, asymmetrical patch with uneven borders. Colors include shades of tan, brown, black, red/pink, blue or white. It can also lack pigment and appear as a pink or skin-tone lesion .

Lentigo maligna

What you should know: This form of melanoma often develops in older people. When this cancer becomes invasive or spreads beyond the original site, the disease is known as lentigo maligna melanoma.

How and where it grows: This form of melanoma is similar to the superficial spreading type, growing close to the skin surface at first. The tumor typically arises on sun-damaged skin on the face, ears, arms or upper torso.

What it looks like: It may look like a flat or slightly raised, blotchy patch with uneven borders. Color is usually blue-black, but can vary from tan to brown or dark brown.

Acral lentiginous melanoma

What you should know: This is the most common form of melanoma found in people of color, including individuals of African ancestry.

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What Is A Skin Tag

A skin tag is a flesh-colored growth that can be thin and stalky looking or round in shape.

These growths can develop in many areas on your body. Theyre most common in parts where friction is created from skin rubbing. As skin tags age, they may become red or brown in color.

Skin tags are often found in the following areas of the body:

  • armpits

Uv Exposure In Australia

Australia experiences some of the highest levels of UV radiation in the world, because we are close to the equator and have a lot of clear blue-sky days. The Earth’s orbit also takes countries in the southern hemisphere closer to the sun in our summertime than countries in the northern hemisphere during their summer.

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A Dangerous Skin Cancer

Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that begins in cells known as melanocytes. While it is less common than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma , melanoma is more dangerous because of its ability to spread to other organs more rapidly if it is not treated at an early stage.

Learn more about melanoma types, risk factors, causes, warning signs and treatment.

Melanoma Fact

Only 20-30% of melanomas are found in existing moles.

While 70-80% arise on normal-looking skin.

Reducing Your Skin Cancer Risk

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You can take steps to reduce your risk of skin cancer from exposure to UV radiation.

Use a combination of the 5 sun protection measures during the daily sun protection times to reduce your risk, including:

  • Slip on sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop on SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outdoors and reapply it every 2 hours . Never use sunscreen on its own or to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that protects the face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade.
  • Slide on wrap-around sunglasses. Make sure they meet Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1067. Optometry Australia recommends using eye protection all year.

UV levels are most intense during the middle of the day.

SunSmart and the Bureau of Meteorology issue daily sun protection times whenever UV index levels are 3 or higher. This is available as a free SunSmart app, or online at SunSmart, in the weather section of newspapers, or as a free website widget.

Winter activities such as skiing or snowboarding also pose a high risk of skin damage and sunburn. UV radiation is more intense at high altitude than at sea level. This is because the air is clearer and there is less atmosphere to absorb harmful UV rays. Read more about sun protection at the snow.

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What Tests Are Used To Stage Melanoma

There are several tests your doctor can use to stage your melanoma. Your doctor may use these tests:

  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: Patients with melanomas deeper than 0.8 mm, those who have ulceration under the microscope in tumors of any size or other less common concerning features under the microscope, may need a biopsy of sentinel lymph nodes to determine if the melanoma has spread. Patients diagnosed via a sentinel lymph node biopsy have higher survival rates than those diagnosed with melanoma in lymph nodes via physical exam.
  • Computed Tomography scan: A CT scan can show if melanoma is in your internal organs.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan: An MRI scan is used to check for melanoma tumors in the brain or spinal cord.
  • Positron Emission Tomography scan: A PET scan can check for melanoma in lymph nodes and other parts of your body distant from the original melanoma skin spot.
  • Blood work: Blood tests may be used to measure lactate dehydrogenase before treatment. Other tests include blood chemistry levels and blood cell counts.


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