Skin Cancer Surgery
Conveniently located to serve Thousand Oaks, Carpinteria, and Santa Barbara
The incidence of skin cancer has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. In fact, the number of skin cancers diagnosed every year in the U.S. exceeds the total of all other types of cancer combined. Skin cancer, including melanoma, targets younger and younger patients and is one of the most common cancer in both men and women in their twenties and thirties. Skin cancer is a particular concern for Thousand Oaks area residents, who enjoy almost year-round sunshine and an active, outdoor lifestyle.
To learn more about skin cancer and your treatment options in Southern California, click here to request a consultation with one of our providers. Or you can call The Center for Dermatology Care at (805) 497-1694 and one of our helpful staff members will schedule your appointment.
Types of Skin Cancer
The most common skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and more than 1 million of these skin cancers are diagnosed each year in the United States. This type of skin cancer is most frequently found on the chronically sun-damaged areas of the head, neck, arms and chest. BCC usually appears as a small fleshy or pearly bump or red patch and tends to grow slowly, destroying normal healthy tissue as it grows.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer and tends to occur in the same locations as basal cell carcinoma. SCC tends to look like a rough, scaly patch or bump and over time can become invasive and even metastasize (spread) to other organs or areas of the body.
Malignant melanoma (MM) is the least common of the three, but the most deadly. Melanoma is responsible for 75% of the deaths caused by skin cancer because it metastasizes more quickly. At the same time if melanoma is identified and treated early the cure rates can approach 100%. For this reason monthly skin self examination and annual skin cancer examination by one of our Thousand Oaks dermatologists is very important.
Detecting Skin Cancer
Monthly self examination requires a complete evaluation of the entire skin surface. Melanoma is most common on the back in men and the legs in women, but it can occur anywhere so a thorough, careful self examination is most important. Additionally, annual examination by a dermatologist can also help to identify and treat skin cancers or precancers at an early stage.
A good rule of thumb is to look for new or changing pigmented lesions or other features of BCC and SCC as described above. Malignant melanomas (MM) tend to have features described as “ABCDE”. “A” stands for asymmetry. Melanomas tend to be asymmetric in size and shape. “B” stands for borders. The borders of MM tend to be irregular, jagged or blurred. “C” stands for color. Any of the colors red, white, blue, black or variations in color are features more suggestive of MM. “D” stands for diameter, larger than 5 or 6 mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser). And “E” stands for evolving. Any evolving or changing pigmented lesion should be evaluated by your dermatologist. While not all melanomas share all of the characteristics of ABCDE, this is a good way to start examining your skin and a good starting point for discussion with your dermatologist.
Preventing Skin Cancer
To help protect yourself and prevent skin cancers you need to consider sunscreen and sun protective measures. Use a sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater on a daily basis. Scientific studies show that most people who use sunscreen apply about half as much as is necessary to get the SPF on the bottle. So if you’re like most people, when you apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 you’re probably getting an SPF of 15. You should also use sunscreen that screens out Ultaviolet A and Ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB). Not all sunscreens screen out UVA so be sure that your sunscreen specifically says that it screens out UVA or that it’s “broad spectrum.” Sun protective measures mean seeking shade when possible; wearing a hat and other clothing that protects your skin from sun damage, and trying to limit outdoor activities to the earlier and later parts of the day when UV intensity is less.
So through some simple steps we can decrease ultraviolet exposure and decrease the risk of skin cancer, and if skin cancer develops, we can identify and treat it when it’s most curable.