Skin Cancer Screening
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States and is on the rise. This year, there will be more than 75,000 cases of melanoma with more than 10,000 deaths and more than 3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, together referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers. These non-melanoma skin cancers, fortunately, only cause about 2000 deaths per year.
The key to survival from skin cancer is prevention and early detection. Patients are encouraged examine their skin and the skin of family members on a regular basis for any new or suspicious growths. A full-body skin examination by an experienced provider is also recommended. At Déjà Vu, we perform detailed full-body skin examinations to detect skin cancer. These examinations are covered by medical insurance. If you would like to have a skin cancer screening, please call 812-490-SKIN for an appointment with Dr. Manley at Déjà Vu.
Skin Cancer Prevention
Many of the risk factors for skin cancer cannot be controlled including advancing age, a weakened immune system, male gender, fair skin, large number of moles, and family or personal history of skin cancer. Other risk factors such as smoking, exposure to toxic chemicals, and exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds, can be controlled.
Clearly, the most important thing patients can do to prevent skin cancer is to protect themselves from UV radiation. This can be done by diligently using sunscreen rated of SPF 30 for UVA and UVB, wearing wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves and avoid the use of tanning beds. There is no safe way to use tanning beds.
Skin Cancer Detection and Treatment
When a suspicious skin lesion is identified during a skin examination, it will need to be biopsied with the specimen sent to the pathology laboratory for examination. We will decide whether the biopsy should be a small sample of the lesion or if it is better to simply go ahead and excise the entire lesion. This decision is based on the location and characteristics of the suspicious lesion.
If the lesion is identified as cancer or pre-cancer, treatment will depend on the type of cancer or pre-cancer identified.
Actinic keratosis. This is a very common, sun-induced, pre-cancerous lesion that can be a precursor to squamous cell skin cancer. An actinic keratosis may be treated with topical medication, freezing or excision. Treatment depends on the extent of the lesion, location and thickness.
Dysplastic skin lesions. These are pre-cancerous lesions also known as atypical moles. These lesions are benign but can be a precursor to melanoma. They will usually be fully excised. Some patients may have many of these lesions and are considered at higher risk of getting melanoma in their lifetime. Patients with multiple dysplastic skin lesions have dysplastic nevi syndrome and need to be monitored closely with regular skin examinations.
Basal cell cancer. This is the most common type of skin cancer and is usually the result of sun exposure. Some BCC’s are more risky than others and treatment will depend on the risk. There are multiple treatment options including topical medication and excision. Some patient may be referred for a special type of excision called Mohs surgery, when needed.
Squamous cell cancer. These cancers are usually treated with surgical excision and depending on the location and characteristics of the lesion, may be excised in the office or a referral may be made to a Mohs surgeon.
Melanoma. This type of skin cancer is very dangerous and needs to be fully excised. Early melanoma may be treated in the office but more advanced lesions will be referred to a cancer specialist.
Merkel cell cancer. This cancer is more rare than melanoma but even more dangerous. These patients will usually be referred to a cancer specialist.