28 Sep Skin Cancer During a Pandemic
Many people are choosing to cancel or postpone what they deem non-emergency medical appointments in the midst of COVID-19. In some situations this can be a good idea, but in others—such as when it comes to getting skin cancer checks—it can be very dangerous. Spectrum Dermatology is fully reopened and committed to following all CDC and local guidelines for optimal safety. It’s essential to get a “mole check” at least once per year, and more often for those with a history of skin cancer or dysplastic nevus (atypical moles). Unfortunately, some patients have canceled their mole checks in the midst of COVID-19 and that can come with serious consequences.
Getting your moles checked by a dermatologist might not seem like a top priority as the world faces a pandemic unprecedented in recent history. This might be particularly true for those who have never had a skin check, don’t have a history of skin cancer, who don’t regularly expose themselves to UV rays, or who have a good amount of melanin and don’t tend to burn. However, none of these circumstances make someone immune to skin cancer. Anyone can get skin cancer regardless of skin tone or history.
Why Skin Cancer Diagnoses Might Have an Uptick Post-COVID
Just like any other disease, the earlier that skin cancer is caught the easier it is to remove and treat. When skin cancer is caught early, whether it’s pre-cancerous or in stage one, the vast majority of the time all that is required is an excision. Skin cancer that hasn’t moved beyond the skin layers is relatively well-contained. A simple in-office removal followed by a lab test to confirm all cancerous areas have been removed can make you “cancer-free.”
However, when skin cancer is not caught early it can become deadly. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and one of the deadliest forms of any cancer when not treated early. It’s important to perform self-checks at home on a monthly basis, but nothing takes the place of a routine mole check from your dermatologist. Only a skin expert has the education, experience, and tools necessary to pinpoint, diagnose, and test for skin cancer.
As a surge of patients canceled their seemingly non-emergency appointments, this unfortunately means there will be cases of skin cancer that will go undiagnosed during COVID-19. Hopefully patients who canceled their skin checks will quickly make a new appointment because timing is critical when dealing with skin cancer. It is to be expected that when the pandemic has passed and patients return to skin checks, there will likely be an increase in skin cancer diagnoses simply due to appointments that were postponed for too long.
Should You Get a Skin Check During COVID?
Yes. A skin check is not a cosmetic appointment, but rather a critical part of taking care of the biggest organ you have—your skin. Regardless of your history of sunburns or skin cancer in your family, it’s important for everyone to see their dermatologist at least once per year for a full-body skin check.
An annual skin exam is simply your best defense against all types of skin cancers in every stage. Spectrum Dermatology is committed to your safety, and is practicing the best sanitation methods and social distancing so that we can continue to treat patients. We are also one of the few practices in the area offering Mohs surgery, a revolutionary approach to treating diagnosed skin cancer.
Why Mohs Matters During a Pandemic
Mohs surgery is a type of outpatient surgery that requires a single appointment to treat early-stage skin cancer. In most cases, patients with skin cancer require multiple appointments. Each appointment removes a larger amount of the cancerous area, which is then sent to an off-site lab (sometimes out of state). The lab reports back whether or not the border of the excised sample is “all clear” or not. This can take several appointments because traditional methods for treating skin cancer require small excisions in order to minimize scarring. Alternatively, a large area might be removed in hopes of excising all of the cancer in one appointment. This might be effective, but the scarring can be severe.
Mohs surgery allows for on-site lab testing so that only the affected skin is removed. There is no waiting for results and no repeat appointments. Spectrum Dermatology offered Mohs surgery for the convenience of patients well before COVID-19, but now it is more desirable than ever. Minimizing how many trips you take to the clinic is an important part of staying safe and social distancing. Schedule your skin check today. Call Spectrum Dermatology at (480) 948-8400.