There are many types of skin cancer types. Melanoma is the most serious—and the deadliest of any form of skin cancer. Fortunately, all types of skin cancer are quick and easy to treat when they are caught early. Prevention and early diagnosis are your best tools for avoiding advanced stage skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. There are 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer every year. Many of these cancers are basal cell carcinoma. Four percent are melanoma. With these odds, 20 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer. Those in exceptionally sunny areas, like Phoenix and Scottsdale, are at an even higher risk. We have sunshine every day of the year, and the heat makes residents want to live in shorts, tank tops, and sandals. The Arizona region ranks number two in the world for skin cancer—Australia takes the gold. Living in Arizona is paradise, but even paradise has trouble sometimes.
Scheduling an annual mole check or skin check is your best defense against skin cancer. Remember that when skin cancer is caught early, treatment is usually a simple in-office excision. However, if you allow skin cancer to go untreated, it can advance to dangerous stages where chemotherapy, radiation, and shortened life spans can occur.
Only a dermatologist can diagnose skin cancer. These skin care experts have been specially trained to spot suspicious moles and skin irregularities. Dermatology clinics are also the only clinics with the technology and tools to screen for skin cancer. A complete skin check takes less than 15 minutes and includes careful examination of the entire body (including areas you can’t see like the scalp and back).
If a suspicious mole is noticed, your dermatologist will take a small biopsy excision. Spectrum Dermatology is one of the few dermatology clinics to offer Mohs surgery. Offering this surgery means there is a lab on-site that will check your biopsy in real-time. There is no waiting game as the biopsy is sent to a different lab. Mohs surgery offers immediate answers and minimizes scarring by only removing the cancerous area.
Patients who do require a biopsy can rest easy knowing that a pathologist is taking a close examination of their biopsy in the same clinic. This is also a time where you can talk to your dermatologist about customized best practices to prevent future sun damage. The best sunscreens for you and avenues for avoiding damage in unique situations (such as working in an all-glass office) are just a couple of issues to address.
It is very important to have a skin check every year. Consider it akin to seeing your regular physician or dentist annually. Skin is the largest organ of the body, and it has a tough job. Give it some love and schedule your skin check today.
A board certified dermatologist is the only professional who can diagnose skin cancer, but it is also important to keep an eye on moles in between skin checks. Moles are the best signal that something is wrong with the skin. Most moles are benign and harmless, but if you notice some key changes to moles, it is time to schedule an immediate appointment with a dermatologist. The ABCDEs of moles can help.
Phoenix and Scottsdale residents deserve to have Spectrum Dermatology on their side for annual skin checks and to take a look at suspicious moles throughout the year. Contact one of our four Arizona offices today at (480) 948-8400 and enjoy peace of mind knowing your skin is healthy and protected.