In 2018, the National Cancer Institute reported 18.1 million new cancer diagnoses worldwide. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy. But no matter where you are on your cancer journey, there are people, resources and teams of health care professionals ready to help you. Cancer treatment is not just treating the malignant components of your diagnosis, but also tending to your physical and mental health needs.
Skin cancer can be treated with success if it’s found early, but reducing your exposure to the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun is the best defense.
Our Approach to Skin Cancer
There are three main types of skin cancer—basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma—and early detection is key when it comes to a successful recovery, regardless of what type of skin cancer you have.
Skin exams are important for everyone; your healthcare provider will recommend a screening schedule for you to be checked. For example, you may need a skin exam more often if you have an increased risk of skin cancer due to a weakened immune system or a personal or family history of skin cancer.
Screening for Skin Cancer
Your primary care provider can check for signs of skin cancer as part of your regular health exams, or you can choose to see a dermatologist.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) also provides free skin exams at certain times of the year. Visit the AAD website, or call your local health department to find a doctor who will be offering free skin exams.
Regardless, between skin exams, it’s important to remain vigilant about changes on your skin. Performing regular self-examinations can help.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
In order to detect cancerous lesions on the skin, it’s important to routinely monitor any growths, moles, freckles or other markings. An easy way to do that is to assess moles according to the ABCDE rule:
- Asymmetry: One half of the mole does not match the other half.
- Border irregularity: The edges of the mole are ragged or irregular.
- Color: The mole has different colors in it. It may be tan, brown, black, red or other colors. Or, it may have areas that appear to have lost color.
- Diameter: The mole is bigger than 6 millimeters across, about the size of a pencil eraser. It's important to note that some melanomas can be smaller.
- Evolving: A mole changes in size, shape or color.
Other signs and symptoms of skin cancer can include:
- A mole or skin mark that itches or is sore
- A mole or skin mark that oozes, bleeds or becomes crusty
- A mole or skin mark that looks different from your other moles or skin marks
- A sore that doesn't heal
- A mole or sore that becomes red or swells at its edges or beyond
Watch for any changes to the moles or skin marks on your body and pay attention to new moles or skin marks that appear. If any of them fit the ABCDEs or other criteria, see your Inspira physician right away.
Skin Cancer Treatment at Inspira
Inspira offers comprehensive care for melanoma and other skin cancers. If diagnosed, your course of treatment will be based on a variety of factors including tumor type, size, location and your age and overall health. Your dermatologist can perform treatments for some smaller skin cancer lesions; for deeper or larger areas we offer wide excision of the cancer with complex reconstruction or skin grafts. You may be referred to a surgical oncologist for care.
Our multidisciplinary team can discuss additional treatment options, including immunotherapy, targeted therapy or radiation therapy. All patients’ diagnoses and treatment options are discussed in depth at multidisciplinary meetings, ensuring adherence to national guidelines.
Melanomas are a particularly dangerous type of skin cancer commonly treated with surgery. Some patients may be candidates for immunotherapy, which is a form of treatment that helps a person’s own immune system destroy the cancer cells more effectively. Patients may also benefit from new biologic agents that specifically target parts of melanoma cells. Chemotherapy or radiation may be used under certain circumstances, especially in advanced melanomas, or in melanomas that do not respond to immunotherapy or targeted therapy.
Inspira Cancer Specialists
If you’d like more information about your or a loved one’s cancer care, or to receive a second opinion about a diagnosis, our team is here to help.