About Skin Cancer Screenings
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will have skin cancer in their lifetime. The high prevalence of skin cancer makes regular screenings crucial, especially if you have a personal or family history of skin cancer. Early detection is essential to give you more treatment options and better outcomes. As well as many advanced skin cancer treatments, dermatologist Jennifer Dharamsi, M.D. offers comprehensive skin cancer screenings and biopsies of abnormal areas. During this time, she will assess the overall health of your skin, including moles (dysplastic nevi) and other skin lesions to determine their state (benign, precancerous, or cancerous). In addition, she will create a mole map to best track any changes. To schedule a skin cancer screening, contact Legacy Dermatology & Restoration Center in Frisco, TX.
Types of Skin Cancer
Dr. Dharamsi looks for four types of skin cancers during screenings:
- Actinic Keratoses (AK): This kind tends to form after the age of 40 and on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun — such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms. AKs appear as dry, scaly spots and are commonly deemed precancerous because it has the potential to develop into squamous cell carcinoma.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): This is the most common type of cancer. BCC can form anywhere on the body and may appear as a pink area or as a flesh-colored or pearl-like bump. BCC needs to be treated because it has the potential to grow into the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): This is the second most common kind of skin cancer. Forming on skin that gets the most sun exposure, SCC appears as scaly patches, red and firm bumps, and/or sores that heal and reopen. These should be removed to reduce damage and disfigurement.
- Melanoma: This kind of cancer develops unexpectedly as a dark spot on the skin. Dr. Dharamsi uses the ABCDs to detect melanoma — Asymmetry, Border, Color, and Diameter. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma accounts for only one percent of skin cancer cases but the majority of skin cancer deaths. For this reason, melanoma should be treated as soon as possible after it is diagnosed.
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"Top-notch facility and staff! From beginning to end, they make you feel welcomed and professionally treated. They also take the time to listen to your concerns so that they may apply the right treatment for you. Thank you for taking such great care of me and getting me in early, Dr. Jennifer Dharamsi and staff!"- C.M. / Facebook / Jan 28, 2020
Men and women of all ages are at risk for skin cancer. While people with fairer complexions are at greater risk, all skin tones and types could get skin cancer. Dr. Dharamsi recommends every patient perform regular self-exams of their skin so they know what is normal and when a spot changes. You should schedule a skin exam anytime you are concerned that a spot on your skin has changed, itches, or bleeds. If you or a close relative have been diagnosed with skin cancer, then you should make appointments for annual skin exams.
During your skin exam, Dr. Dharamsi will check your whole body for birthmarks, moles, and any abnormal areas. She can produce a map of spots to mark areas of concern and to quickly identify new spots at future checks. Dr. Dharamsi can show you how to perform a self-exam between your appointments. In some cases, she may recommend a biopsy of a suspicious area. She will numb the skin, then shave a small sample. The biopsy will be sent to a pathology lab for analysis. When Dr. Dharamsi receives your pathology report, you will be contacted with the results.
What to Expect
After your exam, Dr. Dharamsi will talk to you about your results and any recommended actions. She will also let you know when you should return for your next skin cancer screening. If you need a biopsy of an abnormal area, there is a chance of scarring. Dr. Dharamsi does her best to minimize the appearance of scarring and take the smallest skin sample possible during the biopsy. Dr. Dharamsi will discuss the best way to care for your skin after the biopsy to help your skin heal correctly. With good care, any scarring should be flat and fade so it is barely visible.
Frequently Asked Questions
At what age should I be checked for skin cancer?
At Legacy Dermatology & Restoration Center, we generally recommend patients undergo a skin cancer screening at around age 50 or earlier if they have a family history of skin cancer. It's also highly encouraged to receive a screening at the first signs of any skin abnormalities or changes in moles.
How often should I see a dermatologist?
On average, many patients see a dermatologist once a year for an annual exam. By seeing a practitioner once a year, a dermatologist can track any changes that occur with your skin to catch any abnormalities as early as possible. If you have skin cancer, Dr. Dharamsi may need to see you every six months or more, depending on your condition.
How often should I check my skin?
We highly recommend that patients develop a habit of performing self-skin exams at home on a regular basis. You should become familiar with the overall look and feel of your skin to understand what is normal and not normal for you. Typically, performing a self-exam while you shower is a good practice.
Early Detection is the Key
Understanding your risk and early detection are two important keys to the successful treatment of skin cancer. If you are due for an annual skin exam, then contact our office in Frisco, TX. Whether you are already seeing Dr. Dharamsi for cosmetic treatments, are at high risk for developing skin cancer, or have worries about an abnormal growth on your skin, schedule a skin cancer screening at Legacy Dermatology & Restoration Center.