Of the various types of cancer diagnosed in America, skin cancers top the list. Each year, more than 3.5 million people are diagnosed with some type of skin cancer. Estimates are that one in five people will develop skin cancer at some point.
Skin cancer has a large potential for avoidance. The primary cause of skin cancers is exposure to UV radiation, which most people get from sunlight. This continual exposure causes changes within the DNA of skin, which can lead to abnormal growth of skin cells, ultimately paving the way to cancerous lesions and tumors.
There are three common types of skin cancer:
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is most commonly seen. Luckily, this type of skin cancer is also very treatable. Basal cell carcinomas may look like scar tissue, but with no origin. They may also look like shiny, pink bumps, patches of scaly, red skin, sores, or a pimple or bump that won’t heal. These types of cancerous growths tend to appear on areas that receive a great deal of sun exposure, such as the scalp, ears, face, neck, shoulders, and back. A basal cell carcinoma is rarely life threatening. This growth can become disfiguring and it should be assessed for removal.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is another common skin cancer associated with UV exposure. In addition to sun, factors such as certain medications, autoimmune disease, and injuries to the skin can trigger the development of SCC lesions. Less common, squamous cell carcinomas are also more serious than basal cell carcinomas, accounting for approximately 2,500 deaths annually. These deaths occur when SCC growths metastasize to other organs. Early signs of squamous cell carcinoma include a wart-like growth, an open sore that doesn’t seem to heal, or a scaly, red plaque on the skin.
- The most concerning type of skin cancer is melanoma, which accounts for as many as 9,000 deaths each year in our country. Malignant melanoma tumors are somewhat related to sun exposure, typically to very bad sunburn, but also have ties to genetic and environmental factors. It is possible to develop a melanoma growth on an area of the body that does not see the sun, such as the sole of the foot. A melanoma can be a number of different colors, such as blue, black, white, purple, red, pink, or flesh-toned. This type of cancer is treatable, with a greater success rate when treated early.
Washington Dermatology Consultant
Rating : 5
Dr. Neal is very compassionate and very thorough. His knowledge of the skin and diseases is solid. I also was very impressed with his surgical abilities for my skin cancer. The area where I had surgery for skin cancer healed very well. I have friends that had cosmetic facial stuff done by him and they are also very pleased. I can't see myself going to anyone else other than Dr. Neal for my skin concerns. He has a gift that can't be taught. I wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Neal and I highly recommend that if you have skin problems or need surgery for a skin cancer this is the doctor that you want. My friends agree.
Dr. Kenneth Neal, medical director and practicing physician in our Arlington and Stafford offices, has an extensive background in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers. With an esteemed colleague, Dr. Neal authored "Skin Cancers in Skin of Color," a groundbreaking piece featured in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. He has received specific training beyond the standard surgical excision of skin cancers, completing the rigorous Mohs Fellowship Program early in his career.
A great deal of care is taken with our patients. Diagnosis of skin cancers is confirmed with biopsy, and treatment options discussed. Most treatments are outpatient and they will depend on the diagnosis confirmed by laboratory testing. Your skin plays a part not only in your appearance, but also in your health. Don’t take chances where skin cancer is concerned. Contact us in Stafford or Arlington for your consultation with Dr. Neal.