More than five million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States, making it our most common type of cancer. Unlike most cancers, you can prevent the majority of skin cancer cases. Also, when caught early enough, almost all skin cancers are curable.
Whether skin cancer runs in your family or not, you’re still at risk. Even if you haven’t spent much time in the sun, you could develop skin cancer. Some skin cancers, particularly in darker-skinned individuals, develop on areas of the body that aren’t often or ever exposed to the sun, including the soles of the feet.
Our expert dermatologists at Specialists in Dermatology, diagnose and treat all types of skin cancer in our offices in The Woodlands, Texas, and Houston, Texas. In addition, they highly recommend monthly self-exams and yearly skin-cancer screenings to catch troubling lesions in their earliest and most treatable stages.
If you haven’t ever had a skin cancer screening before, it’s a simple procedure. Here’s what to expect.
In contrast to other forms of cancer screening, no high-tech machines or blood work are involved in a skin cancer screening. Instead, you change into an examination gown in one of our private spaces.
In the exam room, either one of our dermatologists or a nurse examines your skin visually. If you wish, you can have another nurse present as well.
We examine and inspect all of your skin, including areas that may be hard for you to see during your self-exams. We inspect between your toes, behind your ears, and in the folds of your skin.
We look for new moles or lesions as well as for any cuts that haven’t healed. We also take a look at your moles to see if they’ve changed in shape, color, or size. We may also note the measurements of some of your larger moles so that we can determine if they change over the years.
In most cases, we don’t find anything abnormal on your skin and you’re free to go for the next year. However, if we discover an unusual new lesion, or if a mole has any of the changes that could be associated with skin cancer, we remove a portion of it for analysis.
We send the biopsied lesion to a laboratory. A pathologist then checks the excised tissue under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present. If skin cancer runs in your family or if the lesion is suspicious, we may recommend using two different pathologists before we give you the all-clear.
If the pathologist does identify cancer cells, we recommend removing the lesion immediately. Our dermatologists are trained in a specialized form of skin cancer removal called Mohs surgery. We may also advise an X-ray based form of nonsurgical treatment called electronic brachytherapy.
Mohs surgery cures newly diagnosed skin cancers in 99% of cases. It also cures 94% of skin cancers that have been treated previously by other methods.
Whether we remove a skin cancer or pronounce you skin cancer-free, we want you to be safe for the rest of the year, too. We help you adopt skin-healthy habits, such as avoiding the sun’s rays during their peak between 10am-4pm. We may also recommend medical-grade skincare products and sunscreens that block UVA and UVB rays but allow your skin to breathe.
A skin cancer screening is a simple procedure that could save your life. Book one today by calling our office or using our convenient online contact form.