Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Identifying Skin Cancer in its Earliest Stages
Get Ahead of Your Skin Cancer Testing
Identifying skin cancer through self-examination or your yearly checkup at the dermatologist can save your life. The earlier it is detected, the earlier it can be diagnosed and removed. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute can help diagnose skin cancer and provide the proper treatment to stop it from spreading or causing more damage.
Step 1: Identifying Skin Cancer
A self-examination and a skin cancer screening in a dermatologist’s office are very similar processes. Either way you choose can help identify skin cancer in its early stages. The screening is a process of examining the skin for moles, birthmarks or other unusual marks on the body. If anything unusual is found during a self-examination or at a dermatologist office, you can use the letters A, B, C, D and E to help you remember what to look for in those unusual marks. First you will look for the marks to be symmetrical. Symmetrical marks will be able to be split in half evenly. If the two halves are not even they are considered asymmetrical and the mark may be considered atypical. Next, you will look at the border of the mark. If the border is uneven, the mark is again considered atypical. Then you will look at its color. If it is a really dark brown or has changed colors over time, this is an atypical sign. Along with color you will want to look at the darkness of the mark and the diameter of the mark. The mark should be no bigger than an eraser. Lastly, notice how the mark has changed or evolved over time. If it has evolved into asymmetrical, darker, or larger this should be cause for concern. If these signs are found during a self-examination or during your dermatologist visit the next step is have these marks tested and confirmed as skin cancer.
Step 2: Skin Cancer Treatment
The earlier you are diagnosed with skin cancer, the better chance you have of stopping it from spreading. After skin cancer has been confirmed the dermatologist will determine which treatment option is best based on the kind of skin cancer you have and the severity of it. Treatment options may include Mohs micrographic surgery or excision. Mohs surgery is the most invasive. It is not painful, but an anesthetic is given to keep you comfortable. The cancerous tissue is removed and tested for skin cancer. The tissue continues being removed until cancer is no longer detected. After the procedure, the area is stitched up and you will return in a few weeks to get the stitches removed.
Excision options include shave, scissor and surgical. A shave excision is quick and painless as the cancerous mark is gently removed from the top of the skin. A scissor excision is more invasive as they must dig slightly deeper in the skin to cut the cancerous mole out. Lastly, a surgical excision is like Mohs surgery where it is much more invasive and often requires stitches after removal.
If you are in the Bloomington, Illinois or surrounding areas complete this form to get started with a yearly skin cancer screening at our office. We are here to help identify skin cancer in its earliest stages and provide quick treatment options that could save your life.