Skin Cancer Screening, Diagnosis & Treatment in Dallas, TX
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer, which is one of the most common forms of cancer, is defined as an uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. There are many different types of skin cancer. The three main forms of skin cancer are basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer, and melanoma. Basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell skin cancer are two of the most common types of skin cancers, primarily affecting the head, neck, and other regions of the body that experience high levels of sun exposure. Melanoma, while less common than basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell skin cancer, can be a more serious condition if left untreated. A melanoma growth can begin in any area of the body, but commonly affected areas include the chest and back in men and legs in women.
What causes skin cancer?
Skin cancer is caused by genetic mutations that cause skin cells to grow abnormally and uncontrollably. Most often, these mutations are the result of excessive exposure to UV radiation, either from direct sunlight or tanning beds. Additional skin cancer causes and risk factors include:
- Having fair skin
- Being prone to sunburns
- Living in sunny climates
- Having numerous or abnormal moles
- Having precancerous skin growths
- Having a family member who has skin cancer
- Being exposed to radiation therapy
- Having a compromised immune system
- Being exposed to certain harmful substances
What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
Symptoms of skin cancer typically first show in areas of the body that have been highly exposed to UV radiation from the sun, such as on the face, nose, legs, hands, arms, and neck. Symptoms can also occur in other areas of the body with low sun exposure, such as the palms of your hands, genital areas, and beneath your fingernails. Depending on the type of skin cancer, symptoms may vary.
Symptoms of basal cell skin cancer may include:
- A waxy or pearly-like bump of the skin
- A flat brown or flesh- colored skin lesion
- A recurring sore that scabs or bleeds
Symptoms of squamous cell skin cancer may include:
- A hard, red lump
- A flat, flaky lesion
Symptoms of melanoma may include:
- A mole that bleeds
- A mole that grows in size
- A mole that changes color
- A minor irregular shaped skin lesion with regions that differ in color
- Painful lesion accompanied by burning or itching
- Dark-colored lesions
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
While skin cancer can only be diagnosed by a doctor, it is recommended that you regularly examine your skin at home to identify early signs of skin cancer. This can be done using a mirror to scan areas of your body for any irregular growths or unusual spots or markings. You can also assess any inherited moles, birthmarks, or other skin pigmentation for changes. If you notice any cause for concern, a visit with an experienced skin doctor can help confirm an appropriate diagnosis.
To determine whether you have skin cancer, your doctor will first begin by examining your skin. If skin cancer is suspected, your doctor may recommend a skin biopsy. The biopsy can confirm whether or not skin cancer exists, as well as the type. To determine the stage of skin cancer, additional testing may be required.
Can skin cancer lead to complications if left untreated?
Left untreated, skin cancer can spread to other areas of the body, becoming more difficult to treat. Knowing the early signs of skin cancer, performing skin self-exams, and scheduling regular skin cancer screenings can help you and your doctor detect any unusual changes in your skin in order to provide early treatment.
How is skin cancer treated?
Depending on the type of skin cancer, its stage, location, and other factors, treatment will vary. If the cancer is only located at the surface of the skin, a biopsy may be enough to remove the growth. If the skin cancer cannot be removed through a biopsy, additional skin cancer treatment options may include:
- Mohs surgery
- Excisional surgery
- Radiation therapy
- Photodynamic therapy
- Biological therapy
- Clinical trials
If you are experiencing symptoms of skin cancer, a consultation with an experienced dermatologist may be the first step towards diagnosis and treatment. At Dermatology Treatment and Research Center, our board-certified physicians hold expertise in clinical, cosmetic, and general dermatology and are ready to provide you with high-quality expert care in a friendly and compassionate atmosphere. Call 972.661.2729 or fill out the form on this page to book an appointment.