Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, affecting close to one in five Americans in their lifetimes. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that nearly 8,500 people get diagnosed with the disease every day. Since 1982, the incidences of skin cancer in the U.S. have more than doubled. Skin cancer isn’t a disease that affects only people with light skin who stay out in the sun too long, although that population is at a higher risk. In fact, Caucasian men over the age of 50 have the highest risk of developing the devastating condition, while men 80 years old and older are three times more likely to get skin cancer than women of the same age.
Younger Caucasian women are more likely than their male counterparts to get skin cancer. Usually, when people of color are diagnosed with the disease, it’s at a much later stage. On an average day in America, one person dies from melanoma every hour. In 2016, it predicted that 10,130 deaths would result from melanoma alone.
Varying Types of Skin Cancer
The two most common types of skin cancer are squamous cell and basal cell cancers. These types of skin cancer typically appear on your face, head, arms, hands, and neck, the areas that receive the most sun. The third type of skin cancer, even more dangerous, is called melanoma. It’s also rampant in the U.S. but not as common. Any unusual bump, mole, spot, or discoloration that changes its size or shape over a period of time is suspect. When you maintain regular check-ups with your New York dermatologist, he’ll watch for signs of skin cancer that may look like:
- A translucent bump through which you can see blood vessels
- Sores that won’t heal
- Flesh-colored lesions
- Brown-colored lesions
- Either rough or smooth hard lumps
- Scaly, reddish patches
- Itchy, bleeding spots
And while the areas of your skin exposed to the sun are at a higher risk of developing a basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell, or melanoma, those aren’t the only areas that can be affected. Skin cancer can begin between your toes, on the soles of your feet, and even in your eyes, which is why It’s pertinent that you undergo regular, routine checkups with a Manhattan dermatologist experienced in spotting telltale signs of cancer, especially if you fall into a high-risk category, were sunburned as a child or have a family history of skin cancer.
Prevention Is Key
The earlier skin cancer is discovered, like many other forms of cancer, the better chance you have of beating it. Regular check-ups with your Manhattan dermatologist, practicing self-checks on your skin, and not ignoring unusual spots or growths on your body will help you and your NYC skin doctor get ahead of the disease. You have a 98 percent chance of increasing your life by five years with early detection. The number one risk factor for developing a life-threatening skin disorder is exposure to ultraviolet light. Whether It’s direct exposure to the sun or in a tanning booth, you put your skin at risk of getting skin cancer and increasing the odds that a benign mole will turn malignant. The best prevention is to stay out of the sun, don’t use tanning beds, and cover your skin with protective clothing and sunscreen when you are outdoors.
Your NYC dermatologist recommends that you use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 and make sure your children are well-protected as well. When a child gets severe sunburn, his risk of developing skin cancer later in life increases exponentially.
Start with a Diagnosis
Your NYC dermatologist knows what to look for and is best equipped to catch signs of cancer early. The first step is a visual exam during which he covers every inch of your skin, noting unusual spots or bumps. Your doctor can often put your mind at ease when you’re worried about a spot. For example, that may be an age spot. When you get regular checkups, he can note in your file areas to watch. Anything that looks suspicious or that’s bothering you also can be inspected further. A small scraping of your skin is taken to the doctor’s office for a biopsy. It’s sent to a lab for testing. Your lymph nodes closest to unusual skin discolorations may also be inspected to check to see if they’re enlarged, a sign that cancer has progressed. Your Manhattan dermatologist may look closer at a suspicious mole or red spot with special magnifiers or take a picture of a spot on your skin for closer examination. To discover whether you have melanoma, your skin doctor follows a certain set of steps, called ABCDE, to get to a firmer diagnosis. During the process, he looks for one or more of the following features:
- Asymmetrical shapes
- Spots that have irregular or ragged borders
- Color that’s uneven and has shades of brown or black
- Diameters that change over time
- Moles that are evolving or elevating over time
There are a number of treatment options available, especially if your dermatologist catches a spot in its pre-cancerous stages. Non-melanoma cancers such as squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancers are easier to treat because they tend to remain in one area of your body and respond well to excision, freezing, or other types of immediate removal. On the other hand, melanoma may be more difficult because It’s the kind of cancer that can spread. Melanoma cancer can spread to nearby organs, skin, and lymph nodes. Treatment and your prognosis for a complete recovery are determined by the stage of your cancer when it was diagnosed. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma treatments usually involve one of a number of treatments, such as:
- MOHS surgery; NYC Mohs surgeon Dr. Bard removes one layer of skin at a time until the cancer is all gone
- Photodynamic surgery
- Topical chemotherapy
Melanoma treatment may be more aggressive and include:
- Surgery in which wide swatches of cancerous skin is removed and replaced with skin grafts
- MOHS surgery
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board-certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist could determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
(212) 427-8750 Manhattan Dermatology (Midtown) 56 W 45th St, Ste 819, NY 10036
(212) 889-2402 Manhattan Dermatology (Union Square) 55 W 17th St, Ste 103, NY 10011