Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.  Risk factors include excessive sun exposure, tanning, fair and freckly skin, history of sunburns, having numerous moles called dysplastic nevi, and family history. The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. The least common, but most serious, type of skin cancer is melanoma which can be deadly if not detected early. It is important that skin cancers be found and treated early because they can invade and destroy nearby tissue, and in some cases spread elsewhere in the body. The physicians at our practice offer full body skin exam and skin cancer screenings and, if necessary, perform biopsies and removal of suspicious moles right in the office under local anesthesia. To schedule an appointment for a skin cancer screening, please call (704) 341-0090.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer in the world and is related to excessive sun exposure.  Basal cell cancer usually appears on sun exposed areas such as the nose, cheek, ear, face, neck, or extremities. They usually present as a pink or red bump with a pearly color.  They can also present as a flat pink patch on the extremities or trunk.  Untreated, basal cell skin cancer will tend to bleed and crust over.  They are more common in individuals with a fair complexion with light hair and light eyes, but can occur in anyone.  Basal cell does not tend to spread quickly but can cause considerable damage to local skin tissue if left untreated.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell is the second most common skin cancer.  This tumor usually appears as a red, crusty nodule or as a red, scaly patch on the skin.  It is typically found on sun exposed areas such as the face, rim of the ear, lip, neck, or extremities.  If caught early, squamous cell carcinoma is typically curable.  Left untreated, squamous cell cancer can metastasize.

Melanoma

Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment cells of the skin, called melanocytes.  It is projected that 132,000 Americans will develop melanoma in the next year and 8,600 will die from melanoma.  Like basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, melanoma is almost always curable if detected early.  Any mole that is new, changing, or symptomatic should be evaluated by a dermatologist.  The ABCDE system was developed to help detect warning signs of a melanoma:

  • Asymmetry:  if you cut a mole in half, the two halves are different
  • Border:  The borders of a melanoma are often scalloped or jagged
  • Color:  A variety of colors is a warning sign
  • Diameter:  Any mole larger than a pencil eraser
  • Evolving: Any change in size, shape, color, or elevation or symptoms such as itching or tenderness

Dr. SewardDr. Grattan, and Dr. LaRocque specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of skin cancer.  We recommend a yearly skin exam for most patients and more frequent skin cancer screening for those patients with risk factors or a history of skin cancer.

Visit our patient education library to learn more about skin cancer