Skin Cancer Treatment in Ocala, FL
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. and worldwide.
Here are the facts:
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
- More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than ALL other cancers combined.
- EVERY DAY: 9,500 people in the U.S are diagnosed with skin cancer every single day.
- EVERY HOUR: More than 2 people die of the disease every hour.
- EVERY AGE: Skin cancer can occur in both children and adults.
- EVERY RACE: Skin cancer affects people of all ethnicities.
Skin cancer can be grouped into two main categories: Melanoma skin cancer and Non-Melanoma skin cancer.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body if not treated at an early stage. This type of skin cancer arises from melanocytes which are a type of skin cell found in the epidermis (upper layer) of skin. Melanoma can form when DNA damage from UV radiation (causing sunburns) triggers mutations in the melanocytes leading to uncontrolled cell growth. The uncontrolled growth and spread of cancer cells makes cancer dangerous, and even fatal in some cases. Cancer cells can replace or deform normal skin tissue and cause organs to stop working. These cancer cells can spread to both nearby and distant parts of the body through lymph nodes and blood.
Melanoma can look a variety of ways (different shapes, colors, sizes, and textures). Common warning signs include a changing mole, a sore that does not heal, or a mole that looks different than your other moles (the ugly duckling sign). Also, be watchful of any new mole or freckle that arises on your skin as the majority of melanomas (70-80%) arise on seemingly normal skin without pre-existence of a mole.
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial. If caught early, melanoma can be cured.
- The vast majority of melanomas are caused by the sun.
- About 10% of melanomas are caused by a gene mutation that passes from one generation to the next.
- Even one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma.
- Experiencing five or more blistering sunburns between ages 15 and 20 increases one’s melanoma risk by 80 percent
- A person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma has a 50% greater chance of developing melanoma than people who do not have a positive family history of this disease.
- Melanoma survivors have an approximately nine-fold increased risk of developing another melanoma compared to the general population.
- Caucasian individuals who have had more than one melanoma have an increased risk of developing both subsequent melanomas and other cancers, including those of the breast, prostate and thyroid.
- Although less likely, melanoma CAN occur in skin of color patients and generally has worse outcomes.
- 1 in 27 Caucasian men and 1 in 40 Caucasian women will develop melanoma in their lifetime.
Non-melanoma Skin Cancer
The two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, and the most frequently diagnosed type of cancer overall. Approximately, 4.3 million Americans are diagnosed with BCC each year. This type of cancer arises from the basal cells in the epidermis – one of the three main types of cells that are found in the top layer of skin. When UV radiation causes DNA damage of the basal cells, uncontrolled cell growth occurs resulting in this specific type of cancer. Unlike melanoma, BCCs rarely spread to other sites of the body. However, if BCCs are allowed to grow without treatment, they will become locally invasive. This means the cancer cells will destroy the surrounding skin, tissue, and eventually bone as they grow wider and deeper over time. The result can be significantly disfiguring.
BCCs can present in a variety of appearances such as pink to red bumps, shiny bumps, open or non-healing sores, red patches, or bumps with a central indentation. Often times, these non-specific lesions can resemble a scar or pimple. BCCs can even be pigmented (dark brown) in color, especially in patients with darker skin.
With early detection and treatment, the majority of basal cell carcinomas can be successfully removed with a high cure rate and low risk of complications.
Basal Cell Carcinoma Facts:
- BCC is the most common form of skin cancer.
- An estimated 4.3 million cases of BCC are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
- Almost all BCCs occur on parts of the body excessively exposed to the sun.
- Most BCCs appear in people over age 50 and are more common in men compared to women.
- Although BCC is most common in people who have fair skin, people of all colors get this skin cancer.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is the second most common type of skin cancer. This type of cancer can arise from a pre-cancerous lesion called an actinic keratosis (AK). Actinic keratoses are NOT cancer, but they are a sign of significant sun damage. AKs often appear as very subtle red scaly thin bumps. A percentage of actinic keratoses will develop into squamous cell carcinoma if not treated and cleared from the skin in an early stage.
SCC occurs when DNA damage from exposure to ultraviolet radiation (sunlight) or other damaging agents trigger abnormal changes and accelerated growth in the squamous cells of the skin which are located in the top portion of the epidermis (top layer of skin). This cancer is usually not life-threatening. It tends to grow slowly, but it can grow deep and injure nerves, blood vessels, and surrounding tissues. Some forms of cutaneous SCC can have more aggressive features and are at higher risk of spreading to other parts of the body. When this happens, the overall cure and survival rate are decreased.
SCC of the skin can develop anywhere on the body but is most often found on sun-exposed areas of the body such as the face, lips, ears, scalp, shoulders, neck, back of the hands and forearms. This type of cancer can also occur in other areas of the body, including the genitals. Further, SCCs can develop in scars, burns, non-healing sores or wounds and other areas of skin injury.
The appearance of SCC varies greatly from one individual to another, but most commonly an SCC will appear as a rough spot, scaly red patch, open sore, thickened or wart-like bump, or a raised growth with a central depression. At times, SCCs may form an overlying crust, become itchy or painful, and bleed. For other patients, they might not experience any symptoms at all associated with the appearance of this lesion.
Most squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the skin can be cured when found and treated early. Treatment should happen soon after diagnosis as more advanced SCCs of the skin can spread to local lymph nodes, distant tissues, and organs.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Facts:
- Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer.
- More than 1 million cases of SCC are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
- Organ transplant patients are approximately 100 times more likely than the general public to develop squamous cell carcinoma
- Regular daily use of an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen reduces the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40%.
Question and Answer with Dr. Locke about Skin Cancer:
How can I prevent skin cancer?
You can take many actions to decrease your risk of developing skin cancer.
- Sun protection: Since most skin cancers are caused by UV radiation, starting with consistent and diligent sun protection is key. This means using a combination of:
- Sunscreen: broad-spectrum with SPF of at least 30 or greater
- UPF protective clothing and sunglasses
- Seeking shade whenever possible, especially during the peak hours of sunlight.
- Avoid tanning bed use and avoid tanning outdoors.
- Self-examination of your skin: Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See a board-certified Dermatologists for regular skin checks as advised.
How do I know if I have skin cancer?
If you are concerned you might have a cancerous skin lesion, you should see a board-certified Dermatologist immediately for expert examination and diagnostic techniques. Some of the warning signs of potential skin cancer lesions include non-healing sores, changing moles, new growths that are painful, itchy, or bleed, and bumps that do not look similar to your other normal moles and freckles.
What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
Skin cancer can occur in anyone regardless of age or skin color. Certain personal health factors and behaviors put some people at an even higher risk of developing this disease.
Some of these risk factors include:
- Fair skin, light eyes
- Red hair
- History of tanning bed use
- History of tanning outdoors
- History of a single (or more) blistering sunburn
- Chronic unprotected sun exposure
- Intermittent sun exposure without adequate protection (vacations, outdoor activities, etc.)
- History of atypical moles
- Personal history of skin cancer
- Family history of skin cancer, especially in a first-degree relative
- History of an organ transplant
- Use of immunosuppression medications (such as steroids or transplant medications)
How is skin cancer diagnosed?
If your doctor is concerned a lesion on your skin may be cancerous, a skin biopsy can be performed. This involves taking a sample of the skin lesion and sending it to a lab where a pathologist will look at the cells to determine if it is cancer or not. The pathologist will communicate the diagnosis to your doctor who will discuss these results and treatment options with you.
What are the treatment options for skin cancer?
There are many treatment options for skin cancer. Selecting the best treatment option for your personal diagnosis depends on several factors including: the skin cancer type (and subtype), whether or not the cancer has aggressive features, location on your skin of the skin cancer, your overall health (taking into consideration your other medical problems and medications), and potential cosmetic outcomes of various treatment options.
Typical treatment options for skin cancer include:
- Mohs surgery
- Skin cancer excision
- Topical chemotherapy
- Photodynamic therapy
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, you should have a thorough consultation with your dermatologist about your treatment options. During this appointment, you should have ample opportunity to: discuss your specific cancer diagnosis, learn how this diagnosis affects your current and future health, learn about your treatment options including which options will have the best cure rate for your diagnosis, understand the potential cosmetic results of the different treatment options, and be given the time to ask any questions you may have.
*NOTE: Facts and information used on this page are obtained from skincancer.org and aad.org.
If you are interested in learning more about Skin Cancer and other ways to achieve your optimal skin health, please call today for a cosmetic consultation with Dr. Maren Locke, (352) 509-6105.