1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma every hour. Risk factors include regular sun exposure or intermittent sunburns, fair skin, numerous moles, and a family history.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and often presents as a pink bleeding skin growth.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer and often appears as a crusty, warty growth and scaly, pink patch.
More than 3.5 million of these two types of skin cancer are diagnosed in 2 million people in the US yearly. These skin cancers are easily treated and have a very low chance of metastasis when caught early.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. It often presents following the ABCDE criteria: asymmetry, irregular borders, color variation, diameter larger than 6mm, and evolution or change. Melanoma detected in the early stages has a 5 year survival rate of greater than 95%, however when detected late, survival can be as low as 16%.
A skin examination is a visual inspection of the skin by a trained Dermatologist often in combination with a tool called a dermatoscope which allows your doctor to better differentiate benign, precancerous and cancerous skin growths
Most skin cancers can be treated in the office with a combination of topical chemotherapy creams, electrodessication & curettage (scraping procedure), or surgery. If Mohs surgery is needed, your Dermatologist will discuss referring you to a fellowship trained surgeon.
You should see your Dermatologist for a yearly skin examination or more often if you have certain risk factors. Any new or changing lesions should be evaluated sooner.