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Skin Cancer Facts
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and ranks as the sixth most common cause of death among those who have cancer. Skin cancer can take on a number of forms, some of which are more dangerous than others. The most serious form of skin cancer is what is known as melanoma and is associated with moles. Fortunately, you are least likely to develop melanoma as it is the rarest, but the frequency of its diagnosis has been increasing across the country.
Common Types of Skin Cancer
There are three large groupings of skin cancer types which can affect your body and will necessitate different treatment options:
Risk Factors for Skin Cancer
While skin cancer types can manifest differently, they do share a number of risk factors that you should be aware of. All three types of skin cancer have higher rates of incidence among those who are fair-skinned. Unprotected exposure to sunlight and UV radiation is almost always a factor in the development of one of these cancers. A history of severe sunburns or a compromised immune system (due to HIV or recent transplant surgery) can put you at a greater risk for skin cancer.
Treating Skin Cancer
There are a number of treatment options for skin cancer beginning with excision, in which the entire thickness of your skin at the point of the cancer will be removed. If your lesion is small and has not metastasized (spread to other parts of the body), this will often be enough. Other options include cryotherapy (freezing), imiquimod cream (an immune system reactant that causes inflammation and destruction of cancerous cells) and in the case of melanoma, special skin surgery called Mohs Surgery.
Metastasized melanoma requires care by an oncologist.
“Pre-cancerous” growths (Actinic Keratoses) can often be eliminated by PhotoDynamic Therapy or Laser (the Fraxel Dual Laser is FDA approved for the treatment of Actinic Keratosis). Not all AK’s become cancerous but it is estimated that 20% of untreated AKs go on to become cancers. However, anyone who develops non melanoma BCC or SCC skin cancer will have had actinic keratosis.
All suspicious lesions are biopsied. If a skin cancer (BCC or SCC) occurs on the head, neck, or hands, you will be referred to a Mohs surgeon. Otherwise excisions can be managed in our office. Skin Cancer Facts http://www.skincancer.org/Skin-Cancer-Facts/ Resources and Imagery Links Skin Cancer Slideshow http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/slideshow-precancerous-skin-le...
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