It’s critical to differentiate a normal dark spot from a deadly melanoma, and the safety of you in your skin is paramount in our eyes. We offer comprehensive skin evaluations of all your growths and moles, utilizing dermoscopy to identify skin cancers early, and biopsy lesions that have atypical features worrisome for skin cancer. We treat skin cancers using multiple approaches, educate you on your options, and will recommend what is most appropriate for the cancer – and your health.
Benign (non-cancerous) Growths
With “wisdom” may come new skin growths and brown spots, fortunately, many of which are completely harmless. Sunspots (lentigines) can occur over the chest and arms, and raised brown overgrowths of the top layer of the skin (seborrheic keratosis) are common on the trunk after the age of 30. Skin tags regularly occur in the armpits and skin folds, overactive oil glands often appear on the face (sebaceous hyperplasia), and cysts can grow on different parts of the body. The key is first properly identifying these as not being cancerous; then, if desired, there are plenty of cosmetic treatments available to clean up their appearance.
Moles and Melanoma
While moles are common brown or pink pigmented spots on the skin, it’s important to differentiate them from melanoma – an aggressive type of skin cancer. Typically, moles will develop in our childhood years before the age of 20 and all of our moles should share a relatively similar color, size, and shape. If there is an ugly duckling mole (one that looks different than all of your other moles), or changes are occurring in a mole, it should be promptly evaluated. A commonly used method used to help identify melanomas is searching for any worrisome “ABCDE” features:
- asymmetry of shape – the left and right side of a mole should look similar
- border irregularities – notched, scalloped or poorly defined borders are concerning
- color variation – multiple shades or colors within one mole are suspicious
- diameter – usually melanomas are larger than 6mm, but they can be smaller
- evolving – melanomas tend to gradually change with time
Early diagnosis and treatment of melanomas can make the condition nearly 100% curable, but even with a later diagnosis, we work closely with other specialists to develop the most up-to-date treatment regimen for your melanoma. And we’ll follow you every step of the way.
Actinic keratoses are precancerous lesions, often occurring on the face, scalp and arms. With a rough, red appearance, these growths occur after years of sun exposure and have the potential to turn into skin cancer. We employ a range of treatment modalities to treat these lesions and prevent them from progressing.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, usually presents as a red, smooth bump. Often on the face, these growths can bleed and locally invade the skin – though they uncommonly spread to other parts of the body. Treatments may involve the application of a cream, surgically removing the skin cancer, a Mohs procedure (where the removed specimen is examined while being removed), a “scrape and burn procedure” called electrodessication and curettage, or oral medications. Early detection is key, and after identifying these skin cancers, we will educate you on all of the options available and let you drive the ship with regards to your treatment.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Similar to basal cell skin cancers, squamous cell carcinomas show up as red spots, but these are often rough and scaly. The product of many years of sun damage, these cancers tend to destroy the tissue around them, and when neglected can spread to other areas in the body. Again, early detection is vital to identifying and treating this type of skin cancer, and multiple treatment modalities are available.