Skin Cancer Screening

Skin Cancer Screening

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., making regular screenings crucial for early detection and a higher chance of successful treatment. Here's why skin cancer screenings are essential:

  1. Prevalence and Risk Factors: Skin cancer is diagnosed at an alarming rate, partly due to global warming, ozone layer depletion, and indoor tanning. Regardless of skin tone, everyone is at risk.
  2. Risk Factors: Factors like fair complexion, light eyes and hair, sun exposure, family history, and certain skin types increase the risk.
  3. Classifications of Skin Types: Skin types range from 1 to 6, with type 1 being the most sensitive to UV rays. Even darker-skinned individuals should have periodic skin check-ups.

Why Screenings Are Necessary:

  • Early Detection: Dermatologists can detect skin cancers at their earliest, most treatable stages.
  • Precise Examination: Dermatologists can examine areas you might miss, such as the back, scalp, groin, or soles of the feet.
  • Detection of Precancerous Regions: Dermatologists can identify and treat precancerous regions before they become cancerous.

Signs of Skin Cancer or Precancerous Lesions:

  1. Actinic Keratosis: Small, rough, dry, or scaly patches, often on sun-exposed areas.
  2. Basal Cell Carcinoma: Open sores, shiny, translucent bumps, raised patches, scar-like areas.
  3. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Crusty surface, wart-like growth, scaly red patches, persistent sores.
  4. Melanoma: Asymmetry, irregular borders, uneven color, diameter larger than a pea, evolving appearance.

Skin Cancer Screening Process:

  1. Patient History: Dr. Harvey will inquire about any areas of concern.
  2. Full Body Examination: Thorough examination of the entire body, including the scalp and soles of the feet.
  3. Precise Measurement: Any suspicious spots are measured precisely for future comparisons.
  4. Photographs: Photos may be taken to document the appearance of specific spots.
  5. Biopsy: If needed, a biopsy may be performed, involving the removal of a tissue sample for microscopic examination.

Types of Biopsies:

  1. Excisional Biopsy: Removing an area of abnormal skin with a scalpel.
  2. Shave Biopsy: Removing layers of skin with a razor-type tool.
  3. Punch Biopsy: Removing a small section of deeper skin tissue with a circular tool.

Treatment After Diagnosis:

  • Excision: Removal of malignant tissue in case of a positive pathology report.
  • Referral to MOHS Surgeon: Depending on pathology results and location, a referral for further treatment may be made.

Regular skin cancer screenings by Dr. Harvey at least annually, or more frequently for high-risk individuals, are crucial for early detection and effective treatment.

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