Know Your Spots

Know Your Spots

Melanoma

spots.malinomaMelanoma is a serious form of skin cancer of the melanocytes, the cells that produce the dark, protective pigment called melanin. Individual lesions may appear as a dark brown, black or multi-colored growth with irregular borders that can become crusted and bleed.

Melanoma may affect anyone at any age and can occur anywhere on the body. An increased risk of developing this disease is seen in people who have fair skin, light hair and eye color, a family history of melanoma or who have had melanoma in the past. These tumors can arise in or near a preexisting mole or may appear without warning. Melanoma may spread to other organs, making it essential to treat this skin cancer early.
Malignant Melanoma

Treatment Options

After sections of tissue from a biopsy of your skin are assessed under a microscope by a dermatopathologist and determined to be melanoma, your dermatologist will discuss several treatment options.

Treatment of melanoma is designed according to several variables including location, extent of spread and aggressiveness of the tumor as well as your general health. Forms of treatment for melanoma include surgical excision, Mohs Micrographic Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Sometimes lymph nodes are removed. Your dermatologist will help you to better understand these treatment options.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Overexposure to sunlight, especially when it results in sunburn and blistering, is a major cause of melanoma. Thus, an important preventive measure to help reduce the risk of melanoma is sun avoidance, especially during peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Limit skin exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and protective, tightly woven clothing. Furthermore, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF-30 or higher on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Additionally, avoid tanning parlors and artificial tanning devices.

Inspect your entire body for any skin changes and routinely visit your dermatologist for a skin examination. Detecting melanoma early can be lifesaving, since this cancer may be curable in its early stages. Any irregularity in an existing or newly developed pigment skin lesion (asymmetry, uneven border, color variability, diameter of more than 6mm, elevation or bleeding) could be a sign of melanoma and should be examined immediately by a dermatologist.

People with dark complexions can also develop melanoma, especially on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, under nails and in the mouth. Therefore, these areas of the body should be examined closely on a regular basis.

For more detailed information on how to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, click here.

spot.nevusAtypical nevi, also known as atypical moles, are benign lesions that have irregular and indistinct borders, are darker in color, and often larger than normal moles. An Atypical nevus occurs when melanocytic cells that represent your skin color grow in organized clusters instead of being evenly distributed throughout your skin. These atypical nevi generally first appear during adolescence, although they can develop during any period of your life. Family history, overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and extreme hormonal changes during puberty and pregnancy are also contributing factors in the development of atypical nevi. Atypical nevi can be found anywhere on the body but are most commonly found in sun-exposed areas such as the back, chest, face, abdomen and extremities.
spots.cBasal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It occurs most frequently on sun-exposed regions of the body. Although this skin cancer rarely spreads (metastasizes) to other organs of the body, it can cause destruction of surrounding tissue. Thus early detection and treatment are needed.

Most basal cell carcinomas are caused by chronic sun exposure, especially in people with fair skin, light hair and blue, green or grey eyes. In a few instances, there are other contributing factors such as burns, exposure to radiation, arsenical intoxication or chronic dermatitis. Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment Options After sections of tissue from a biopsy of your skin are assessed under a microscope by a dermatopathologist and determined to be basal cell carcinoma, your dermatologist will discuss several treatment options. Your dermatologist’s choice of therapy depends on the size, location and subtype of basal cell carcinoma. Your age and general health are also taken into consideration. The more common treatment options include excisional surgery, electrosurgery, radiation therapy and Mohs Micrographic Surgery. Your dermatologist will discuss these treatment options with you.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Because chronic overexposure to sunlight is the leading cause of basal cell carcinoma, sun avoidance, especially during peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is an important preventive measure to help reduce the risk of developing this skin cancer.

Limit skin exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and protective, tightly woven clothing. Furthermore, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, rated SPF-30 or higher, on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Additionally, avoid tanning parlors and artificial tanning devices.

Inspect your entire body regularly for any skin changes, especially those already mentioned, and routinely visit your dermatologist for a skin examination.

For more detailed information on how to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, click here.

spots.sqSquamous cell carcinoma is a major type of cancer that arises from the outer epidermal layer of the skin and mucous membranes and occurs most commonly on areas exposed to the sun. If untreated, squamous cell carcinoma may penetrate and destroy underlying tissue. In a small percentage of cases, this tumor can spread (metastasize) to distant organs and may be fatal. Chronic sun exposure is the leading cause of squamous cell carcinoma, especially in people with fair skin, light hair and blue, green or grey eyes. Other factors that may contribute to the development of this cancer include burns, scars, exposure to radiation or chemicals, chronic inflammatory conditions and immunosuppression. Squamous Cell Carcinoma Learn more… Signs that may indicate the presence of squamous cell carcinoma include scaly red patches, elevated growth with a central depression, wart-like growths, nodules and open sores. All of these types of lesions may develop a crusted surface or bleed.

Other factors that may contribute to the development of this cancer include burns, scars, exposure to radiation or chemicals, chronic inflammatory conditions and immunosuppression.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Learn more…

Signs that may indicate the presence of squamous cell carcinoma include scaly red patches, elevated growth with a central depression, wart-like growths, nodules and open sores. All of these types of lesions may develop a crusted surface or bleed.

Treatment Options
After sections of tissue from a biopsy of your skin are assessed under a microscope by a dermatopathologist and determined to be squamous cell carcinoma, your dermatologist will recommend several treatment options. Your dermatologist’s recommendation for therapy depends on the size, location and subtype of squamous cell carcinoma. Your age and general health are also taken into consideration. The more common treatment options include excisional surgery, electrosurgery, radiation therapy and Mohs Micrographic Surgery. Your dermatologist will discuss these treatment options with you.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?
Because chronic overexposure to sunlight is the leading cause of squamous cell carcinoma, sun avoidance, especially during peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is an important preventive measure to help reduce the risk of developing this skin cancer.

Limit skin exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and protective, tightly woven clothing. Furthermore, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, rated SPF-30 or higher, on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Additionally, avoid tanning parlors and artificial tanning devices.

Inspect your entire body regularly for any skin changes, especially those already mentioned, and routinely visit your dermatologist for a skin examination.

For more detailed information on how to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, click here.

Actinic keratosis (AK), also known as solar keratosis, is a precancerous lesion of the epidermis (outer layer of skin) that is caused by long-term exposure to sunlight. Chronic sunlight exposure alters the keratinocytes (cells that make up the majority of the epidermis) and causes areas of your skin to become scaly, rough, discolored and sometimes tender to the touch. AKs are most commonly found on sun-exposed areas such as the face, lips, ears, neck, scalp, forearms and backs of hands. People who have fair skin and light- colored hair and eyes are at the greatest risk of developing AKs. Individuals who are immunosuppressed, either by cancer chemotherapy treatments or organ transplants, and who have an immuno-deficiency disorder, are also considered high risk for developing AKs. Actinic Keratosis Learn more…

Treatment Options
Dermatologists often diagnose and treat AKs based on clinical appearance alone, but sometimes a skin biopsy is needed. After a dermatopathologist assesses your skin tissue under a microscope and determines the lesion is an AK, your dermatologist will discuss several treatment options with you. Your treatment may vary based on the location, size of the lesion and the amount of AKs you have developed. Your age and general health will also be taken into consideration. Common treatment options are cryosurgery (freezing lesion with liquid nitrogen), topical chemotherapy creams, photodynamic therapy, chemical peels and laser resurfacing therapy. Your dermatologist will help you decide which option is best for you.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?
Because chronic overexposure to sunlight is the leading cause of actinic keratosis, sun avoidance, especially during peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is an important preventive measure to help reduce the risk of developing this precancerous lesion.

Limit skin exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing broad-brimmed hats and protective, tightly woven clothing. Furthermore, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, rated SPF-30 or higher, on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Additionally, avoid tanning salons and artificial tanning devices.

Inspect your entire body regularly for any skin changes, especially those already mentioned, and routinely visit your dermatologist for a skin examination.

For more detailed information on how to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, click here.

Seborrheic Keratoses (SKs) are common, noncancerous lesions that grow on the epidermis (outer layer of the skin) and can develop on any part of the body. SKs usually begin as rough, itchy bumps and can thicken and darken to a brown or black color over time. They are usually roundor oval-shaped growths with an elevated, rough surface and sometimes seem to be glued to the skin or dropped on like candle wax. Though they may appear to spread, SKs are not contagious. There is no known cause of SKs to date, but the lesions become more common with age. They are not believed to be caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays and do not have a higher chance of turning into skin cancer, including melanoma. SKs are not a sign of serious health issues except in very rare instances, when they can develop suddenly in very large numbers and can be associated with internal malignancies. Although harmless, SKs should be observed regularly, like the rest of your skin, for any changes in size, shape or color. Any growth that bleeds, itches or becomes irritated should be checked by a dermatologist.
Seborrheic Keratosis

SK can resemble other skin conditions :

Warts – Warts are caused by a virus. They are usually not as dark and do not appear to have been pasted on as SKs do.

Actinic Keratoses (AKs) – AKs represent a very early stage of skin cancer and develop on sun-exposed parts of the body. AKs are usually flatter, redder and rougher than SKs.

Moles – Moles (also known as nevi) can be similar in color but are more commonly developed during childhood. Most people develop 20-30 moles during their lifetime.

Melanomas – Melanomas can sometimes be confused with SKs because they can both be dark in color and have irregular shapes.

Treatment Options
Seborrheic keratoses cannot be prevented or cured by medications or creams. Dermatologists often diagnose and treat SKs based on clinical appearance, but sometimes a skin biopsy is needed. After a dermatopathologist assesses your skin tissue under a microscope and determines the lesion is an SK, your dermatologist will discuss several treatment options with you. Your treatment may vary based on the location and size of the lesions, taking your age and general health into consideration. Common treatment options include shave removal (cutting off the lesion with a small, flat blade under local anesthesia), cryosurgery (freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen), curettage (scraping the lesion from the skin) and/or electrosurgery (burning the lesion off with electric current). Since SKs are superficial lesions, their removal causes minimal scarring. Your dermatologist will help you decide which option is best for you.