About Skin Cancer Screenings
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. The high prevalence of skin cancer makes regular skin cancer screenings a must, especially if you have a personal or family history of skin cancer. Early detection is key in terms of having more treatment options and better ultimate outcomes. Along with comprehensive skin cancer screenings, board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon Tracy Evans offers many advanced skin cancer treatments and biopsies of abnormal tissue. Dr. Evans cares deeply about the prevention and treatment of skin cancer and dedicated two years of her medical study to exclusively researching the issue. To schedule a skin cancer screening with Dr. Evans, contact Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco today.
Types of Skin Cancer
Dr. Evans looks for four types of skin cancer during a skin cancer screening:
- Actinic Keratoses (AK): This type tends to form after the age of 40 years on areas of the skin that have been exposed to sun — such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms. AKs appear as dry, scaly patches and are commonly deemed precancerous because it has the potential to develop into squamous cell carcinoma.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): This is the most common type of skin cancer. BCC can form anywhere on the body and may appear as a pink area or as a flesh-colored or pearl-like bump. BCC needs to be treated because it has the potential to grow into the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): This is the second most common form of skin cancer. Forming on the skin that gets the most sun exposure, SCC appears as scaly patches; red, firm bumps; and/or sores that heal and reopen. These should be removed to prevent damage and disfigurement.
- Melanoma: This type of cancer develops suddenly as a dark spot on the skin. Dr. Evans uses the ABCDEs to detect melanoma — Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, Evolving. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma accounts for only 1% of skin cancer cases — but the majority of skin cancer deaths. For this reason, melanoma should be treated as soon as possible after it is diagnosed.
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"The entire team that worked on removing my skin cancer was caring and showed genuine concern for me. The treatment rooms are modern and have all of the latest equipment. I highly recommend Dr. Evans for the Mohs Procedure I had done as well as all your dermatology needs."- G.C. / Google / Nov 30, 2019
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Skin cancer can affect men and women of any age. People with fairer complexions are at the greatest risk, but it is important to realize that people of all skin tones and types can get skin cancer. Dr. Evans recommends regular self-exams using the ABCDEs because you need to be familiar enough with your skin to know if something changes or appears. Anytime you are concerned that a spot on your skin has changed or itches or bleeds, you should schedule a skin exam right away. If you or a close relative have been diagnosed with skin cancer in the past, you should make appointments for annual skin cancer screenings.
During your skin cancer screening, Dr. Evans will check your full body for birthmarks, moles, and any abnormal areas. She may create a mole map of spots to mark areas of concern and to easily identify new moles at future screenings. Dr. Evans can show you how to perform a self-exam between your appointments.
In some cases, Dr. Evans may take a biopsy of a suspicious mole or spot. She will numb the area and then shave off a small sample. The biopsy will be sent to a pathology lab for analysis. When Dr. Evans receives your pathology report, you will be contacted with the results.
What to Expect
After your exam, Dr. Evans will talk to you about your results and any recommended actions. She will also let you know when you should return for your next skin cancer screening.
Dr. Evans is a board-certified Mohs surgeon and has over 10 years of experience removing tissue samples. However, with any biopsy, there is a risk of scarring. She always does her best to minimize the appearance of scarring and takes the smallest skin sample possible during a biopsy. Dr. Evans will go over the best way to care for your skin after the procedure to help your skin heal smoothly. With good care, any scarring should be flat and should fade quite a bit.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are the ABCDEs of skin cancer identified?
The skin cancer ABCDEs are Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolving. Cancerous spots or moles often have an asymmetric shape where one side does not match the other. The borders of cancerous lesions can be blurred and jagged, and they commonly are not uniform in color, having different shades of black, brown, or tan. The lesions are often larger than six millimeters in diameter, and they change in size, shape, and color (evolving).
How often should I have a skin cancer screening?
Dermatologists and skin cancer specialists, like Dr. Evans, recommend that you have annual or bi-annual skin cancer screenings. You should also have a screening if you notice any changes or abnormalities in lesions or moles. When treating skin cancer, early detection is key so it is important that you seek the appropriate care at the first sign of irregularity. If you are unsure if a mole or lesion may be cancerous, it is better to go ahead and schedule a screening just to be sure.
Is a biopsy usually necessary?
A biopsy will be necessary if we find any abnormal or suspicious lesions or moles during your skin cancer screening. The biopsy is needed so we can determine for sure whether the tissue is cancerous or not. Unfortunately, there are very few types of cancer that can be diagnosed on sight.
What happens next if skin cancer is detected?
Detecting and diagnosing skin cancer as early as possible is vital, and screenings and biopsies are the best way to do this. If any cancerous cells are found, removal of all the affected tissue is the best course of action to keep the cancer from spreading. Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco provides screenings, biopsies, diagnoses, and treatments. Further, Dr. Evans is a certified Mohs surgeon so most types of skin cancer removals are treated in-house.
Early Detection is the Key
Understanding the risk factors and getting early detection are two important keys to the successful treatment of skin cancer. If you are due for a regular skin cancer screening, please contact our office in San Francisco, CA. Whether you are already seeing Dr. Evans for cosmetic treatments, are at high risk for developing skin cancer, or you have concerns about an abnormal growth on your skin, Dr. Evans at Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology San Francisco can help.