While some abnormal spots on the skin are benign and only of cosmetic concern, other abnormalities are pre-malignant (potential to become cancerous) or cancerous. The dermatologists at Laserderm can diagnose, treat and educate patients in the prevention of skin cancers.
There are three types of skin cancers:
- Basal cell cancer: These usually appear on chronically sun-exposed areas (e.g. face and neck), but can also develop on the trunk, arms and legs. BCC is most common skin cancer in fair-skinned people. This type of skin cancer is like a small tumor, but cannot metastasize or spread to other organs of the body. The early warning signs are:
- Firm flesh colored or slightly reddish bump, often with a pearly border
- Sore or pimple-like growth that bleeds, crusts over and reappears persistently
- Small red scaling patch
- Squamous cell cancer: These thickened, red, scaly lesions can appear bumpy, wart-like or like an open sore. Occur in chronically sun-exposed areas such as the head and neck, or exposed limbs. Attention, boaters and golfers.
- Actinic (solar) Keratoses: These are not skin cancers but PRE-cancerous spots on the skin that can grow in chronically sun-exposed areas such as the face, backs of hands, balding scalp, etc. Some AK’s can develop into a Squamous cell cancer, which is why the doctor will remove these AKs preventatively.
- Melanoma: The least common but most serious form of skin cancer. Early detection is key, and identifying the steps that help to reduce risk of melanoma are very important. A flat brown spot that looks like a freckle, and has uneven shape around the borders and uneven colors (mix of red, brown, black, grey). A CHANGING brown spot should be shown to your doctor, who may refer you to see a dermatologist if biopsy is needed.
How to prevent skin cancer risk:
Avoiding and limiting exposure to UV radiation is the most important factor that we have control over every day.
- Sunscreen should be worn on exposed skin habitually. Your face and neck, for instance, get irradiated by UVA (all throughout the day) and UVB (more intensely during bright sunny days and mid-day hours) every day of the year. Find one that you can wear as a daily moisturizer.
- UVA radiation is deeper penetration is constant from sunrise till sundown, causes the same amount of DNA damage whether you live in Canada or Cuba, transmits through cloud cover and window glass, is reflective off sand/water/snow/asphalt, is linked to risk for melanoma, and kills collagen and makes skin look OLD. Tanning beds use UVA irradiating bulbs to cause pigmentation to brown, and this is accepted as a known carcinogen so is falling out of favor for most people. However, what is underestimated, is the negative impact of chronic small doses of UVA exposure over a long period of time. UVA kills collagen and accelerates the ageing process.
- Even if you have sunscreen on your face, a large brim hat offers even more protection from direct UV radiation. This is a must if:
- You have had a previous skin cancer on the face, ears or neck
- You are interested in rejuvenation and do not want your face to age
- You have any kind of pigmentation disorder. Even indirect UV radiation will make melasma, hyperpigmentation or general sun damage get worse/darker
- When you have large body areas that are exposed, consider UPF fabrics for long sleeve shirts, beach coverups. This is especially true for kids at the pool or vacationing near
- Golfers and boaters should try to stay under umbrellas, carts, shade as much as possible during these long hours of exposure