Health and Beautiful

Your Guide To Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is incredibly common, and like any form of cancer, it can spread to the rest of the body if left untreated. If you want to better protect your skin and overall health, it's time to learn about skin cancer and treatments. If you would like to know more, keep reading. 

What Causes Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer occurs when abnormal skin cells grow and multiply. Unfortunately, doctors and scientists do not know exactly what causes this to occur, but they have identified many risk factors. The leading risk factor of skin cancer is exposure to UV rays without protection. Your risk may also increase if you have had a sunburn.

Other risk factors for skin cancer include:

  • Having lighter features (skin, eyes, and hair)
  • Certain moles
  • Multiple moles
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Advanced age

You can help reduce your risk by avoiding exposure to UV rays and using SPF sunscreen. If you have any risk factors, make sure to ask about regular skin cancer screenings with your dermatologist.

What Are the Signs of Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer may be hard to spot at first, but for the most part, watch for changes in your skin, especially changes in moles. You may notice sudden sores or bumps that won't heal or go away. If you have moles, look for:

  • Asymmetry
  • Irregular/jagged border
  • Uneven color
  • Large moles
  • Changing moles

If skin cancer spreads, it can lead to more widespread symptoms like fatigue, weakness, and weight changes.

How Is Skin Cancer Treated?

Treatment largely depends on the extent. However, in the early stages, you may have Mohs micrographic surgery. During this procedure, thin layers of the skin are slowly removed until the cancer is gone. This takes longer, but it allows for less healthy tissue removal. Other early-age treatments may include:

  • Simple excision – normal tissue and abnormal tissue are removed together
  • Shave excision – a small blade shaves the abnormal tissue
  • Curettage and electrodesiccation – use a curette to remove tissue and an electrode to kill the remaining abnormal tissue
  • Cryosurgery – uses extreme cold to destroy the tissue

If the cancer has spread, you may need continuing treatment, including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. If the cancer spread to lymph nodes, they should be removed.

Skin cancer may seem harmless, but like any form of cancer, it should be treated immediately and aggressively to prevent it from spreading and metastasizing. If you have risk factors for skin cancer, consider speculating regular skin cancer screenings. If you would like to know more, contact a dermatologist in your area today.