Dr. Dubow is a fellow member of the American Society for MOHS Surgery as well as the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. In addition, as a board-certified skin pathologist, he is among a very small group of physicians in the United States who are board-certified in both Dermatology and skin pathology. He has performed over 2,000 MOHS surgeries and actively participates in meetings of national MOHS societies. For more information about MOHS Surgery, click here.
Of all the cancers, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Fortunately, most skin cancers are visible, can be diagnosed and successfully removed before they spread to other parts of the body. Also, many lesions can be detected and treated at a pre-cancerous stage.
All people, regardless of skin colors and races, can get skin cancer. Those with light skin who sunburn easily have the highest risk. Risk factors include: sunburns, family history of skin cancer, exposure to X-rays and a weakened immune system. Additionally, using indoor tanning beds greatly increases the risk of developing skin cancer. It is important to know the facts about skin cancer and skin cancer stages in order to protect yourself from the disease.
There are 3 common types of skin cancer, and 1 type of pre-cancer:
Actinic keratosis (AK) is the most common type of precancerous skin lesion. An AK is evidence that sun damage has occurred and that the individual is at greater risk of developing skin cancer. AKs normally occur on the face, lips, ears, scalp, neck, back of the hands, shoulders, forearms and back, as these are the parts of the body that are most often exposed to the sun. When on the lip, they are called Actinic Cheilitis. AKs usually appear as small crusty, scaly or crumbly bumps or horns ranging in size from 1 mm to 1 inch. They are dry and rough to the touch and can be raw or sensitive. If AKs are treated early, they can almost always be completely removed before turning into skin cancer.
However, if left untreated, AKs may develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer in Los Angeles.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. In most cases it appears on skin that gets a lot of sun, such as the face, scalp, neck, hands, and arms. BCC generally is a skin bump or growth that is pearly or waxy and is normally flesh colored or light pink. Basal skin cancer grows slowly and usually does not spread to other parts of the body. But it should still be treated promptly. Treatment of basal cell skin cancer varies depending on the size, depth and location of the lesion.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer. This form of skin cancer arises in the squamous cells that make up most of the skin’s upper layers (epidermis). It tends to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure including the rim of the ear, face, neck and arms. Anyone who has had a basal cell carcinoma is also more likely to develop squamous skin cancer. This skin cancer looks like a firm bump, scaly patch or an ulcer that heals and then re-opens, and is usually red in color. They often look like warts and sometimes appear as open sores with a raised border and a crusted surface. SCCs detected at an early stage and removed promptly are usually curable and cause minimal damage. However, left untreated, they eventually penetrate the underlying tissues and can potentially spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. Treatment of SCC varies depending on the size, depth and location of the lesion.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. If it is caught and treated early, it is almost always curable. Seeking the help of an experienced Los Angeles dermatologist is always a great way to ensure you're getting the help that you need. However, if it is not caught early on it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. Fair-skinned individuals with light hair and eye color have an increased risk of developing melanoma. Additionally, those who have a family history of the disease or have ever had skin melanoma or other skin cancer are at greater risk.
This skin cancer generally develops in a mole or appears suddenly as a new dark spot on the skin. Growths that change noticeably in size or have irregularities in shape and color could be melanomas. It is important to check your skin from head to toe regularly for lesions that have the ABCDEs of melanoma symptoms.
Asymmetry – One half of the mole is unlike the other half.
Border – The borders of the mole are uneven, irregular, scalloped or poorly defined.
Color – The mole has a variety of colors; shades of tan, brown or black. Sometimes it may appear to be red, white or blue.
Diameter – Melanomas are usually larger than ¼ inch (the size of a pencil eraser), but may be smaller when first detected.
Evolving – A mole or skin lesion that looks different from the rest or is changing in size, shape or color.
Frequently Asked Questions About Skin Cancer
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer is the most common cancer, in which malignant cells are found in the outer layers of the skin. There are several different skin cancers, some of which are more threatening than others
What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
The most common skin cancer symptoms are changes on the skin, including a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal or a change in the appearance of a mole or freckle. All the different kinds of skin cancer do not look the same, so it is important look for skin cancer signs by knowing what your moles currently look like to be able to tell if they have changed and become cancerous. Skin cancers are generally found on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun, including the head, neck, face, hands and arms
How do you get skin cancer?
While anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have fair skin that freckles easily. The main causes of skin cancer include ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Both the UVA and UVB rays can damage your skin and lead to skin cancer. Additionally, you have a greater risk of developing skin cancer from tanning beds use
How can I prevent skin cancer?
When preventing skin cancer, it is important to protect your skin from the sun by wearing a broad-based spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30, as well as protective clothing. Also, whenever possible you should avoid exposure to the midday sun to help with preventing skin cancer
How can I detect skin cancer?
You should check yourself regularly for new growths or changes in your skin, which are the main symptoms skin cancer. If you find any suspicious spots during your self-examination you should set up an appointment with your Los Angeles dermatologist and have them checked out. Looking at the above picture of skin cancer will help you determine if your lesions are cancerous
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
When an area of skin does not look normal, the doctor will perform a skin cancer biopsy and examine the tissue under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous
What will my doctor do if I have skin cancer?
Depending on the location and size of the skin cancer, the doctor will determine which treatment of skin cancer procedure will be best. The main goal will be to completely remove or destroy the cancer with the treatment of melanoma, leaving as small a scar as possible
What should I do after I have had my skin cancer treated?
Although the skin cancer surgery is completely removed after the procedure, people who have been treated for skin cancer have a greater risk of developing a new skin cancer. Therefore, you should continue to perform self-examinations, visit your dermatologist for checkups and reduce your exposure to the sun