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Cancer is a word nobody wants to get. It attacks and destroys organs and normal body function. What a lot of people need to understand is that your skin is an organ and that it is easily susceptible to damage from outside forces. Cancer of the skin is the most common type of cancer in the United States, but it is a lot easier to treat and cure than most known cancers. This means your dermatologist can help you understand what available prevention measures and treatments are out there but first we should know what exactly can contribute to your risk.
What type of skin cancers are there?
There are two main types of skin cancer that your dermatologist may tell you about. The majority fall under the nonmelanoma label. Those are then broken out into basal cells and squamous cell cancers. Basal cells you may notice start forming with unusual skin growths or changing long term skin growths. You may notice these by having open sores that don’t heal or come back after originally healing. It can also show as a patch of skin changing color. It can also look more like a pimple and leave a scar like impression.
Squamous cell cancers affect the layers of skin underneath your top dermal layer. You may notice that your skin starts shrivelling up and should be looked at by your dermatologist. The more dangerous skin cancer is melanoma. It is very aggressive and can get out of control if not taken care of. You will notice that your skin starts changing color as the melanocytes in your skin start over or under producing melanin, which is used to determine your skin color, and can spread to other parts of your skin and body. They can form dark tumours and can develop anywhere on your body, no matter your natural skin tone.
What causes skin cancers?
Your dermatologist will probably tell you one thing to answer that question, and that’s ultraviolet light and radiation. This spectrum of light can damage your skin causing it to not heal properly and lead to skin cancers or growths. As stated before anybody can get skin cancers but the darker your natural skin cancer is the less likely it is to occur. Natural Ultraviolet radiation comes from sunlight exposure. This is what most of us think about when we get sunburned. In fact getting sunburned a lot is an indicator that you are more likely to get skin cancers. Having lighter colored eyes and hair also increases the risk of skin cancers.
The warm climate of the Southlake, TX area does not help with reducing occurrences of skin cancer. With warmer climates and more sunny days you’re more likely to be over exposed to ultraviolet radiation. Ironically up in the mountains or other high elevation areas also can increase your risk of skin cancer as there is less atmosphere to filter out the damaging ultraviolet radiation. The final natural defense against skin cancer is age. As you age the ability of your body to repair damage to it decreases and that includes your skin. Reducing your exposure as you age will reduce your risk.
Some more unique ways that skin cancer can be caused is if you or your family has a history of skin cancer. If you’ve had melanoma or nonmelanoma cancers in the past you are at an increased risk of it coming back. If you have parents or siblings that have had skin cancer then the odds are that you are at an elevated risk. Gender can also play a role. Men are more likely to get nonmelanoma skin cancers than women, but women under fifty are more likely to have melanoma than men. Your dermatologist should be able to help you understand your risk.
Is there anything but the sun that can cause skin cancer?
If you work with dangerous materials such as radioactive materials, arsenic, or just have increased radiation exposure at your job you increase your risk of skin cancers. Another includes tanning beds. There are a lot of tanning places in Southlake, TX and your dermatologist will probably tell you to not use tanning beds. They simulate the effects of the sun to give you a tan, or burn in some cases, but they are not filtered by the environment like normal sun exposure, meaning it is more difficult for your skin to heal.
What treatments are available?
There are many ways your dermatologist can work with you to treat skin cancer once it is found. You must have an open mind and will likely have to go through a long list of tests to ensure that you are on the right path for treatment. These tests can include a normal body examination or doing a skin biopsy. This requires the dermatologist to remove a small section of suspicious looking skin and have it tested by the lab to see if it has cancerous cells in it. From there the extent of the damage will likely be given a stage of harm and spread. These will set a baseline to ensure the cancer doesn’t spread to other parts of your body.
Some common ways to remove cancerous cells include more traditional surgeries that will cut cancerous tissues out, leaving the healthy skin remaining. A more advanced surgery style is Mohs surgery that removes the skin layer by layer to ensure healthy tissue remains and cancerous tissue is removed. If it is caught early enough your dermatologist may try freezing or cryotherapy to remove sections of cancerous skin, as this is less invasive. In extreme cases radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be used like more traditional cancer treatments. These will target the section or cells that have issues
If you’re in need of a dermatologist in the Southlake, TX area to check your skin to ensure your body is cancer free the staff at Compassion Dermatology is there for you. Doctor Holly DeBuys and her staff will help you ensure you are treated well and give you a thorough diagnostic and treatment for any of your dermatology needs.