There are several types of cancer that can appear on the skin. While some of them are harmless, others can be dangerous to your health and need to be removed as soon as possible. Because the various cancers all have different symptoms, you should visit your local clinic any time you notice a suspicious mole or unusual growth. Here at Steele Creek Dermatology in Charlotte, NC, we can perform a skin cancer test to help you find out if you need treatment.
Who Needs a Skin Cancer Test?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what cancerous skin looks like because there are so many different forms. For instance, both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma occur most frequently after exposure to UV rays, but while the first can appear as a waxy bump or a scar-like lesion, the second might look like a firm, red nodule. Another common type of cancer is melanoma, which is similar to a brown mole.
To double-check whether you simply have a mole or whether you’re suffering from cancer, you should visit your clinic as soon as you see a new, unusual growth on your skin. Similarly, a sore that keeps returning or bleeds frequently could be cancerous.
You Have an Unusual Growth or A Mole Has Changed
Having impurities and growths on the skin is normal and not usually a cause for concern. But if you develop new marks that don’t begin to fade away after 1-2 weeks or one of your moles grows and changes shape, you should consider a test. As mentioned, cancer comes in many forms, and even if your growth doesn’t hurt, it could be cancerous. To prevent complications down the road, it’s better to be tested as soon as possible.
You Have Exceptionally Dry Skin or You Are Bleeding
While some types of cancers don’t come with many symptoms, others cause irritating problems like dry and itching skin or frequent bleeding. It’s important to remember that cancer can occur in any area of your body, including the palms, soles of the feet, vagina, anus, or the lining of your mouth. Therefore, you should check your body for new and unusual growths on a regular basis and contact a specialist as soon as you experience itching, burning, or bleeding.
You Have a Family History of Cancer
Some types of cancer don’t seem to run in families, but others are very much genetic. If you know that other family members such as grandparents, parents, or siblings have had cancerous skin cells before, it’s more likely that you will experience this issue, as well.
Similarly, anyone who has suffered from this disease in the past is more at risk than those who have never had cancer on their skin. In such a situation, it makes sense to see your dermatologist annually.
You Are Frequently Exposed to UV Radiation
While tans may look attractive, they can be damaging to your skin. If you expose your body to too much UV radiation, it’s much more likely that you’ll develop cancer of the skin later on in life. This is also true for people who live in very sunny climates or at high altitudes, those who have very fair skin, or those who were sunburned many times as a child.
To prevent further damage, cover your skin with clothes or apply high-quality sunscreen every time you go outside for prolonged periods of time. Additionally, anyone who believes they damaged their skin due to excessive sunlight should get tested regularly.
What Happens During the Test?
When you come to the clinic for your test, your doctor will start by examining your skin to see if there is a problem. Because potentially cancerous cells can’t always be detected by simply looking at the area, the physician will also use a dermoscope, which is a device that illuminates and magnifies the skin. If your doctor is concerned, they will take a tissue sample and have it biopsied and tested. This is the only way of making sure that you don’t have cancer.
How Is Cancer of the Skin Treated?
The dermatologists at your local clinic can not only perform diagnostic tests, but can also treat cancer. There are several ways of addressing this disease, and the method we choose depends on where on the body your cancer is located, whether it has already spread to other areas, and how aggressive it is.
Two of the most common removal techniques are excision and Mohs surgery, both of which involve cutting the cancerous skin cells out of your body. Usually, this is very effective, but patients who would like a less invasive treatment can benefit from Curettage and Electrodesiccation. This doesn’t require the dermatologist to cut your skin. Instead, they scrape the cells off and cauterize the remaining tissue.
Be Sure About Your Skin Health
Almost 40% of the population gets diagnosed with cancer at some point in life. For this reason, many patients could benefit from having a regular skin cancer test. People who develop an unusual growth on their body, have a family history of cancer, or expose their skin to high levels of UV rays are especially susceptible and should to speak to a local dermatologist. Call us now at Steele Creek Dermatology in Charlotte, NC to book your appointment.