May is skin cancer awareness month for our patients in the area of Brambleton, VA. At Dulles Dermatology Associates, now a part of U.S. Dermatology Partners, we want our patients to know that we have their backs! We provide skin cancer screenings for:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is one of the three primary types of skin cancers, but the most concerning. Melanoma may develop in existing moles or on clear skin. These cancer cells can cause changes in moles including shape, size, borders, and color. While we do encourage patients to see a dermatologist for an evaluation if they see these types of changes in their moles and skin growths, we feel it is also best for patients to be seen regularly for screenings. Screenings are a great chance for patients to be evaluated from head to toe for any indication of cancer. Skin cancer is the easiest to diagnose because it is visible and can be biopsied quickly in a dermatologist’s office.
The American Cancer Society educates patients with these statistics:
- In the year 2015, approximately 73,000 melanoma cancers were diagnosed.
- Cancer risks increase with age but can be found in patients as young as their twenties.
- Caucasian patients have 20 times more risk of developing melanoma cancer than African Americans, although certain subtypes are seen more commonly in people of color
- By the age of 65, 40-50 percent of Americans will develop some type of skin cancer, including squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas.
- When melanoma is detected early, the 5-year survival rate is approximately 97 percent. If advanced, the percentage falls to approximately 15-20 percent. This is why early diagnosis and intervention is key.
What are some risk factors for skin cancer?
Some of the risk factors may include patients’ skin type, their genetic predisposition to cancers, and unprotected sun exposure or exposure in tanning beds. Other types of cancers may also contribute to the risk of developing skin cancer. Patients who have fair skin, light hair, and many moles may also be at a higher risk of melanoma. Patients who have spent extensive time in tanning beds have a significantly increased risk of developing skin cancers.
What are some ways to avoid developing skin cancer?
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, here are a few recommendations for reducing the risk of developing various types of skin cancer:
- Use SPF 30 or stronger every day on the exposed skin
- Avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Avoid sunburn
- Wear clothing that can cover the skin during the peak hours of sunlight
- Use sunscreen on the entire body approximately 30 minutes before sun exposure
- Avoid sun with newborns, and children age six months or older should have sunscreen applied
- Examine your skin from head to toe each month
- Have a doctor provide a professional skin cancer screening annually
What is done if skin cancer is detected?
A biopsy is taking a sample of a concerning area and if it tests positive for skin cancer, patients need to work with their dermatologist to determine the best course of action for treatment. For most patients, simple excision is best. Others may want to look into procedures such as Mohs micrographic surgery, especially for cancers on very visible areas of the body such as the face, or for consistently reoccurring areas of cancer. Additionally, patients can ask about other proactive services they can use, including radiation and chemotherapy. Patients can consult with the team at Dulles Dermatology Associates to decide how they should pursue a solution to their diagnosis.
Ready for your skin cancer screening?
Patients are urged to have their skin screened annually for signs of skin cancer, so let’s start now! Contact Dulles Dermatology Associates today to book an appointment with Dr. Asmaa Chaudhry to discuss skin cancer screenings and book them on a regular basis for early detection. Call the office today at (844) 357-3376 and visit at Suite 275 at 24430 Stone Spring Boulevard in Dulles, VA.
Click here to Request an Appointment!