One in five Americans will experience skin cancer during their lifetimes. If you’ve experienced five or more sunburns in your lifetimes, your odds of developing melanoma double. Fortunately, as the most common form of cancer in the United States, it also has the greatest rate of survival at 99 percent with early detection and proper treatment.
Dr. Linda Banta of Stone Oak Dermatology has served skin cancer patients in the greater Dallas area for more than 30 years. Her knowledge and expertise has helped her diagnose and successfully treat thousands of skin cancer cases, and she can help you.
If you or someone you love has concerns about skin cancer or other skin conditions, schedule your free consultation with Dr. Banta today.
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of cells within or beneath the skin. Skin cancer can affect all areas of the body. It is most commonly found on the face, neck, arms, or torso because these areas of the skin receive the most direct sun exposure. Skin cancer can also be found in less common areas such as the palms or soles of the feet, the scalp, in or around the mouth, or beneath fingernails and toenails.
What Causes Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is most commonly associated with sun damage and excessive tanning. This is because the sun's UV rays can penetrate deep beneath the skin's surface and cause damage to the DNA in your skin cells. This damage is what causes abnormal, cancerous cells to form.
While an estimated 90 percent of skin cancer cases are caused by sun damage, other factors may also be in play. You may be at an elevated risk for skin cancer if:
- You have a personal or family history of skin cancer
- You have a light or fair complexion, freckles, or moles
- You are over the age of 50
- You work with or are otherwise frequently in contact with arsenic, industrial tar, coal, or paraffins
Most Common Types of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer can also take various forms depending on the type of skin cell affected, the layer of skin where it is found, and other factors. The most common forms of skin cancer include:
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma (BCC). It affects the basal cells, which are responsible for producing new skin cells. BCC typically affects skin that receives the highest levels of sun exposure, such as the face, head, and neck. It is usually slow growing, which can make it easy to miss or dismiss. When detected early enough, basal cell carcinoma can be easily treated through topical treatments or surgery.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
Similar to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) affects the squamous cells, which are located in the upper layer of the epidermis and assist with absorption and filtration of materials entering the body through the skin.
Squamous cell carcinoma is not limited to the skin. It can also occur within the body, such as in the mouth, throat, or lungs. These forms of SCC are less common and can be incredibly dangerous without treatment.
Malignant melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer because of its rapid growth and risks of spreading to other organs. Malignant melanoma affects the melanocyte cells (responsible for giving skin its color), causing them to grow quickly and uncontrollably.
For malignant melanoma, early detection is key to survivability. Dr. Linda Banta of Stone Oak dermatology offers year-round skin cancer exams in San Antonio to help catch this potentially deadly disease in the earliest stages.
The ABC's of Skin Cancer
For early detection of Melanoma, follow the ABCDEs of Skin Cancer
Uneven shape or pattern
OUTER EDGES UNEVEN
DARK BLACK OR MULTIPLE COLORS
GREATER THAN 6 MILLIMETERS
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Preventing Skin Cancer in San Antonio
Skin cancer prevention is all about knowing your risks and taking steps to protect your skin against UV damage. While skin cancer is most common among older people and those with fairer skin tones, it can affect people of all ages, skin types, ethnicities, and gender identities.
Most UV damage happens due to extended sun exposure or devices like tanning beds. Using sunscreen every day can greatly reduce your chances of developing skin cancer, especially for people who work outdoors or enjoy outdoor recreational activities.
When choosing a sunscreen, make sure it is at least SPF 15 and don't forget to reapply throughout the day. Avoid spending too much time in the sun during peak hours - usually 10 AM to 4 PM. If you are planning to spend time outdoors, wearing long sleeves and pants can help limit damaging sun exposure.
Skin Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Skin cancer signs and symptoms vary depending on the type of cancer, stage of progression, and other factors. Most cases are initially noticed because of changes in the skin. New moles or moles that have changed shape and size should never be ignored as this can be a potential early sign of skin cancer.
Other common symptoms include:
- Pearly or waxy bumps
- Flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesions
- Firm, red nodules
- Crusted, flat lesions
- Large brown spot with darker speckles
- Shiny, firm bumps
- Itchy or painful spots
- Sores that bleed or develop a crust and won’t heal
- A growth with a raised border and central crust or bleeding
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, please schedule your skin cancer screening today.
Skin Cancer Diagnosis in San Antonio
While some symptoms of skin cancer can be highly visible and concerning, if you don't know what you're looking for it can be easy to mistake them for something else. That's why it's important to see an experienced dermatologist for an annual skin exam or skin cancer screening if you have concerns.
Skin cancer is diagnosed in two stages. The initial step is a visual exam performed by a skin cancer dermatologist like Dr. Linda Banta of Stone Oak Dermatology. With more than 30 years of experience, she has the knowledge and expertise to identify even the earliest signs of skin cancer.
If skin cancer is suspected, a skin biopsy will be performed to confirm the presence of cancer and identify the type and stage of progression. Once the results are available, Dr. Banta can walk you through your treatment options.
Skin Cancer Treatment at Stone Oak Dermatology
The earlier skin cancer is detected, the more options for treatment may be available to you. Early detection also increases your odds of successful recovery with minimal risks.
At Stone Oak Dermatology we provide access to the most effective skin cancer treatments, including surgical and non-surgical options. This includes:
- Mole removals and excisions
- Laser therapy
Certain skin cancers may also be addressed with topical treatments. Superficial basal carcinomas and actinic keratoses that have not yet become cancerous can be treated using medicated creams and gels if detected early enough.
To discuss these and other options, contact Dr. Linda Banta at Stone Oak Dermatology today.