The physician and nursing team at Pacific Dermatology & Cosmetic Center have advanced training in the area of skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. We use the latest methods of care, including localized therapies and surgery such as Mohs Micrographic Surgery, as needed to remove skin cancer. If you suspect you may have skin cancer, you can expect personalized care from an understanding and compassionate medical team; this is what we specialize in.
Why you Need Routine Skin Cancer Screenings
Skin cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer to be diagnosed today. It is estimated that more than one million new cases are diagnosed every year, and that more than 10,000 deaths occur annually as a result of this disease. The benefit of ongoing research has been the development of guidelines for prevention and early diagnosis. Research has demonstrated a clear value to early detection, with most skin cancers treated successfully when found in early stages. We encourage our patients to schedule routine skin cancer screenings every six to 12 months. During your visit with us, we will suggest a recall visit schedule based on your skin type and genetic and lifestyle factors.
In recent years, it has become increasingly easy to locate information relating to skin cancer detection. A quick trip through the internet is all it takes to find images and guidelines such as the ABCDE's of skin cancer. While it is beneficial to perform self-examinations on a monthly basis, this is only one part of the whole. Your dermatologist has the extensive knowledge and familiarity with skin cancer lesions to help you become familiar with your own skin, and to quickly treat skin cancer with conservative care.
If you have a history of melanoma, you benefit immensely from lifelong dermatologic surveillance. Routine skin cancer screenings provide us the opportunity to "map" your skin; to know your "normal." It enables us to quickly notice changes to existing growths, or the development of new, potentially abnormal ones.
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Are you at Risk for Skin Cancer?
The fact of the matter is, anyone can get skin cancer. There are, however, several predominant factors that make some more vulnerable than others. These include genetic risks, environmental risks, and more.
Genetic risks that indicate the need for routine skin cancer screening include hereditary conditions that cause you to have sun sensitivity. A family history of melanoma, and fair complexion have also been identified as genetic risk factors. Lastly, people with several dozen moles are more likely to develop skin cancer, and should consult with their dermatologist about the recommended screening schedule.
Environmental risks are a major influence in today's cases of skin cancer. Both indoor tanning and too much exposure to natural sunlight increase the risk of basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, as well as melanoma. If you burned badly during your childhood, to the point of blistering, you are encouraged to obtain routine monitoring of sun-damaged skin.
Certain medical treatments have been associated with an increased risk for skin cancer. Interestingly, these include treatments for other types of cancer, radiation treatments, and immunosuppressive therapies.
Your personal skin cancer history is a clear indicator of your future risk. If you have been diagnosed with basal or squamous cell cancer, melanoma, or even actinic keratosis (precancerous lesions), or have a number of abnormal moles (dysplastic nevi), there may be a need for more frequent screenings.
Your Skin Cancer Screening: What to Expect
We check every part of the body on which skin cancer may develop, which means that you will be undressed for your exam, but will wear a gown. Your dermatologist will look at your scalp, nails, all exposed skin, and even the skin on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, and between your toes. This is necessary because melanoma may develop on non-exposed areas. Please remove nail polish from fingernails and toenails prior to your visit. If abnormalities are detected, further testing may be performed, such as a skin biopsy.
Skin cancer screenings typically take only about 20 minutes, and can prevent unnecessary stress and illness. To schedule your screening in one of our conveniently located offices, call 206-859-5777.