Full Body Skin Screening

Our skin is made up of different cells and some common types of normal skin cells include basal cells, squamous cells and melanocytes. When each of these cells turns bad, we get corresponding skin cancers; basal cell carcinoma; squamous cell carcinoma; melanoma. While there are other types of skin cancers, these three comprise the majority.

These cancers present themselves as new growths, skin breakdown/open sores, or changes in existing moles (size,shape, or color). The majority of the skin cancers occur in areas chronically exposed to the sun; head and neck, forearms, and back of the hands. Sun exposure with ultraviolet rays contributes to skin damage, predisposing to skin cancer. Fair skin complexions afford less sun protection and are more susceptible to solar damage. A typical profile at risk would be; pale skin, blonde or red hair, blue or green eyes, and tendency to sunburn easily.

Diagnosis starts with a skin evaluation by an experienced medical professional. Any questionable skin lesions are measured and recorded for possible future reevaluation, or, if there is a concerning suspicion, one may be singled out to be removed for a biopsy lab test. A "positive" biopsy means that abnormal cells have been found. The next step moves on to treatment that often requires further surgery to thoroughly remove any residual cancer.

As I am often heard saying to my patients, "It is easier to stay out of trouble then to get out of trouble then to get out of trouble." Be sure to keep your skin healthy and moisturized, avoid excessive sun exposure, and see your doctor for yearly full body skin screening check ups.