More Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer than any other type, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At Hill Country Dermatology in New Braunfels, and Schertz, Texas, Vicente Quintero, MD, and Danielle Brown, MD, diagnose and treat all types of skin cancer. Not only is skin cancer preventable, but it’s also highly treatable when caught early. To learn more, call Hill Country Dermatology or schedule an appointment online now.
Skin cancer results from an excessive amount of abnormal cells. These mutated cells develop when their DNA becomes damaged. Once the abnormal skin cells start to multiply uncontrollably, they form cancerous tumors.
Most types of skin cancer are slow-growing, meaning they rarely spread, or metastasize, to other areas of the body. However, some types can be aggressive and spread rapidly. That’s why early detection is key when treating any type of skin cancer.
There are several types of skin cancer, but the most common are:
Basal cell carcinomas appear as red or pink patches of skin, pearl-like bumps, or skin-colored growths. They’re slow-growing and the most common type of skin cancer in the U.S. BCCs commonly develop from sun exposure, so they often form on the face, chest, arms, and legs.
While BCCs typically don’t spread, they can penetrate and damage the deeper layers of your skin.
Similar to BCCs, squamous cell carcinomas manifest as patches of red skin. SCCs tend to have silver scales, while some form hard bumps. Sun exposure is the most common cause of squamous cell carcinomas. These lesions often develop on the face, ears, chest, and back.
SCCs grow more quickly than BCCs. Not only can they penetrate the deeper layers of your skin, leading to severe damage, but they can also spread to other areas of your body over time.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. This fast-growing cancer develops from abnormal moles and can metastasize very quickly. Unlike BCCs and SCCs, sun exposure doesn’t always cause melanoma. However, it is a serious risk factor for the disease.
The best way to prevent melanoma is to monitor your moles. Melanoma can develop from a new mole or evolve from an existing one. Any mole that grows suddenly, changes shape, darkens in color, or forms jagged edges warrants a trip to Hill Country Dermatology.
A skin cancer screening is the first step in diagnosing skin cancer. If you have a family history or previous skin cancers, the team may recommend visiting for a screening once a year.
During a skin cancer screening, your dermatologist visually inspects your face and body for abnormal lesions. They typically take photos for future reference, which allows the team to detect any changes to existing moles and lesions.
If the team notices an abnormality, they may take a small biopsy of the lesion for testing. After numbing your skin with an anesthetic, the team uses a special tool to remove the tissue. Sometimes, the growth is small enough that your dermatologist can remove it entirely.
If your biopsy results are positive for skin cancer, the type you have helps determine the next steps. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous carcinomas typically only require removal. However, SCCs that penetrate too deeply may need additional treatment.
Mohs surgery is the most common treatment for these skin cancers. The procedure involves removing the diseased tissue layer by layer until there are no more cancerous cells.
Treating melanoma typically requires additional testing, including biopsies and imaging tests, to determine staging. When caught early, the team can remove the mole through excision. If the cancer spreads, you may need chemotherapy or radiation.
To learn more about skin cancer, call Hill Country Dermatology or schedule an appointment online today.