Texas is known for its long, hot summers and plenty of sunshine. While many San Antonio residents love spending plenty of time outdoors, sometimes this can come at a price. It’s important to have regular dermatological check-ups to ensure your skin remains healthy. Read on to discover more about the importance of skin cancer screening in San Antonio.
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer goes by a variety of names, but the most common is melanoma. These spots on the skin may resemble an asymmetrical mole or a skin tag, a small raised bump that looks like a blister. Or, skin cancer can also resemble discolored patches on the skin. Skin cancer can mimic other types of skin conditions in appearance, so it’s important to have a professional dermatologist examination.
In technical terms, skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells generally in areas consistently exposed to the sunlight. There are three main types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or by using tanning beds. Ultraviolet, or UV, light contains radiation, which is dangerous to humans. Prolonged exposure to UV light can break down the integrity of the skin cells and change them into cancerous ones that “attack” other skin cells nearby. While sun exposure is the main cause of skin cancer, other risk factors may increase your chances of developing it.
Risk factors can include being fair-skinned, without enough protective melanin in your skin tissue. Other risk factors include a history of sunburns and excessive (more than 2-3 hours per day without sunscreen) sun exposure. People who live in sunny, high-antidote climates may also run a higher risk, as can those who live around the equatorial region of the globe. Finally, if you have moles on your skin, there’s a greater chance those can turn cancerous.
What to Expect From a Skin Cancer Screening?
You can expect a skin cancer screening to take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. Your dermatologist will carefully examine all of the skin on your body, even places that aren’t typically exposed to sunlight and your scalp. The visual exam will help your doctor determine places on your skin, called actinic keratosis, that might develop skin cancer. Unusual places on your skin may have one or more of the following:
- Asymmetry: the shape isn’t the same all the way around
- Border irregularity: a mole or lesion that has ragged edges
- Color: Darker moles or lesions, typically brown or black
- Diameter: Anything larger than ¼ inch across will be biopsied
- Evolving: Your doctor will recommend you watch the area for changes over time
Treatments for Skin Cancer
Luckily, skin cancer is one of the most treatable kinds of cancer when caught early. Depending on the placement and type of cancers, your treatment options vary. These can include removal of small lesions, with a scalpel or laser, done under local anesthetic. If the small tumors have spread, then you may undergo radiation treatments or chemotherapy. To inhibit the regrowth of cancer cells, you may also undergo a Retinoic acid treatment.
Don’t Delay – Book a Consultation Today!
It’s important to incorporate regular skin cancer screenings into your preventative health exams. Call our offices or go online to book a skin cancer screening appointment today.