Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, with about 3.5 million cases diagnosed in the United States every year. Because Florida experiences intense sunlight year-round, it has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the country. Fortunately, it is one of the most treatable types of cancer if caught in its early stages.
At Integrated Dermatology of Coral Gables, we’re proud to provide our patients with extensive resources to be better equipped to spot, prevent, and deal with skin cancer. If you suspect that you may have skin cancer or would like to come into our office for a routine skin check, contact us today.
Signs and Symptoms
Skin cancer typically develops in places that are exposed to the sun, like the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms, hands, and legs. However, it can also form in areas that are rarely exposed to the light, such as the palms and genitals.
There are three different types of skin cancer, and each has different signs and symptoms associated with it.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This type typically forms in the uppermost layer of the epidermis, and rarely metastasizes — or spreads — to other areas of the body. Common symptoms include firm, red nodules and flat lesions with scaly, crusted surfaces.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma: This type typically forms in the middle layer of the epidermis and like squamous cell carcinoma, rarely metastasizes. Notorious symptoms of this cancer include pearly or waxy bumps and flat, flesh-colored or brown, scar-like lesions.
- Melanoma: Both the rarest and most aggressive form of skin cancer, melanoma forms in the deepest layer of the epidermis. It develops most commonly in the face, neck, hands and arms. If you have a large, brownish spot, a mole that changes in color, size, or texture, or a small lesion with an irregular border that appears to be red, blue, or blue-black in color, you may have melanoma. Moles that bleed are another common sign of the disease.
Risk Factors and Prevention
Cancer occurs when the DNA in a group of cells mutates. Skin cancer always begins in the epidermis and is often the result of prolonged exposure to the UV radiation found in sunlight. Avoiding prolonged sun exposure, wearing sunblock year round, and performing regular self-checks for symptoms can radically decrease your chances of developing it.
While taking precautions can help reduce the likelihood of developing this disease, individuals with one or more of the following traits have an increased risk of developing skin cancer:
- Fair skin
- History of sunburns
- Large number of moles
- Family history of skin cancer
People that live in sunny or high-altitude climates are also at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. These individuals should take special care to protect their skin. No matter where you live or how often you’re exposed to the sun, regular skin screenings can drastically reduce the chances of you developing skin cancer.
Because skin cancer is relatively common, there is a broad range of effective treatments available to get rid of it. Both Dr. Alonso and Dr. Waibel are professionally trained to surgically remove cancerous growths. While routine surgical methods are effective on large areas, sensitive and small areas of skin affected by cancer can be more difficult to deal with. For patients with skin cancer on their face, chest, or neck, our doctors recommend MOHS surgery. This method involves small incisions, attention to detail, and the removal of a minimal amount of tissue.
Our practice is dedicated to helping patients in the Coral Gables area prevent and treat skin cancer. Contact us today to schedule a consultation appointment.