Skin cancer, which occurs when abnormal skin cells grow uncontrollably, is by far the most common type of cancer. Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin. Carcinoma is a type of cancer that begins in cells that make up the skin or in the tissue that lines the organs.
Risk factors for these types of skin cancer include:
Symptoms of skin cancer are usually judged by appearance. Melanomas usually form from moles, while carcinomas usually form as lesions or sores on the skin.
Dermatologists recommend performing monthly self-examinations to detect any cancerous or precancerous areas on the skin. You can use the ABCDE guidelines to judge if a mole displays any signs of abnormality:
If you have a history of skin cancer, your doctor may recommend yearly checkups with a dermatologist for a head-to-toe examination. If you find irregular areas during regular self-exams, be sure to bring this to your physician’s attention to receive a diagnosis. They may order a skin biopsy or imaging tests, such as X-rays or CT scans, to diagnose skin cancer and determine the severity of the disease.
Treatments for skin cancer, including melanoma and carcinoma, includes:
Together, the multidisciplinary oncology team at St. Joseph Health determines what procedures are appropriate for each individual patient based on their overall health and other factors.
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